Thursday, January 17, 2013

Speculating on Manti Te'o's Sexuality

If you're not a sports fan, or an internet fan, I'll give you a brief rundown of the Manti Te'o story.  Te'o is a linebacker who played for the University of Notre Dame.  During this past season, he suffered the heartbreaking deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend in a short span.  One problem: the girlfriend is not real, and the name that Te'o thought he was dating does not belong to an actual person.

There are so many aspects to this story it's difficult to sum them up.  But based on the articles that were written around her death and quotes taken from Te'o at the time, we know a few things:

  • Te'o lied about meeting the girl after a game against Stanford, which suggests that...
  • Te'o either knew something wasn't right, or was an active participant in the hoax...OR
  • Te'o lied to save face with his teammates who were riding him about the girlfriend they'd never met.  This is a locker room.  I guarantee Te'o was asked on multiple occasions to prove her attractiveness.  Which then suggests that...
  • Te'o is gay and invented a fake girlfriend.
That final speculation has gotten significant play in the media, which prompted an interesting discussion between Patrick Burke of the You Can Play Project, and Cyd Ziegler of  Burke contended that it was unfair to Te'o for people to speculate on his sexuality.  Ziegler countered saying, "I don't see the problem with asking the question."

I don't think Te'o's sexuality is anyone's business but Manti Te'o's.  However, I'm not sure wondering if he's gay is actually worse than assuming he's straight, which is the default position, and has (in part) contributed to this whole mess.

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