Homophobia Pervades Penn State Scandal

What if Sandusky had been raping little girls?
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2011 4:14 PM CST
Fear of Homosexuality Lurks Behind Penn State Scandal
Joe Paterno, left, talks with quarterback Matt McGloin (11) as assistant coach Mike McQueary listens on the sidelines during a college football game against Eastern Michigan in State College, Pa.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

"What if it had been a 10-year-old girl in the Penn State locker room that Friday night in 2002?" Writing in the New York Times, Daniel Mendelsohn suggests that football coach Mike McQueary never would have cut and run if Jerry Sandusky had been raping a little girl. In other words—assuming the story is true—McQueary experienced "a particularly intense shame, one occasioned less by pedophilia than by something everyone involved apparently considered worse: homosexuality."

Homophobia runs through the Penn State scandal and organized athletics in general—whether it's school officials too mortified to speak up, or a pro hockey player like Sean Avery ostracized for supporting gay marriage. Face it: Athletics "is the last redoubt of unapologetic anti-gay sentiment." Behind all that horsing around in the locker room lies a "deep anxiety about masculinity, the very quality that aggressive team sports showcase. ... The familiar ferocious anti-gay swagger many athletes affect is likely meant to quash even the faintest suspicion that anything tender or erotic animates naked playfulness between men." (More Penn State stories.)

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