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Bravo!

Welcome to the gayest week ever.

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So, I've been working on concepting this new television show for the Bravo Network. It's going to star that Versace woman, the weird one. The working title at this point is, Don't Ask, Donatella.

Rimshot. Sorry. But if there was ever a week for a lame gay-themed joke, this would be it — possibly the gay-newsiest week ever.

Let's review: The Winter Olympics in Sochi opened amid the controversy surrounding the repressive anti-gay sanctions of Russian President Vladimir Putin (a man who's posed for more bare-chested photos than the Village People). The U.S. sent a delegation of openly gay athletes to the opening ceremonies, because that'll show 'em. (Ralph Lauren's over-the-top, red, white, and whoa! uniforms were also a nice touch.)

Next, the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year, Mike Sam, a graduate of my alma mater, the University of Missouri, shocked the macho football world with his gutsy announcement that he was gay. It was a Jackie Robinson moment for gay rights. NFL executives muttered that it would be a distraction for their teams if they drafted Sam, ignoring the fact that Sam had come out to his Mizzou coaches and teammates before the team's stellar 12-2 season. Some distraction.

I predict Sam will be drafted and will have a fine NFL career. And frankly, anyone who thinks there are no other gay football players in college — or in the NFL — is fooling themselves.

Finally, it wouldn't really be a proper gay-news week without some homophobic lunacy from the good ol' boys in the Tennessee General Assembly. Usually, this nonsense comes from state Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) of the famous "Don't Say Gay" bill and other similar inanities. This time around, it was Germantown's own Senator Brian Kelsey who stepped into the limelight by proposing a bill that would basically allow any person or institution to refuse to do business with a gay couple for "sincere religious reasons." (See Viewpoint, p. 17.)

It was more of the usual pandering to the shrinking Neanderthal base of the GOP, designed to stigmatize gays as sinners — and win publicity for Kelsey. Fewer and fewer people are buying that tired rhetoric. It ignores science and human decency, and the fact that no one's religious beliefs trump the civil rights of any other American. The Supreme Court has made this clear, and other federal courts have upheld it — even in red states like Oklahoma.

And I have to interject here: Does anyone else find it odd that two unmarried, childless men in their late 30s have set themselves up as the champions of traditional family values? Or is that just me?

I digress. Sorry.

But the reality is that the times they are a'changin' and there's nothing Vladimir Putin, the NFL, the Tennessee General Assembly — or Stacey and Brian — can do to stop it.

Just ask Donatella.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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