CULLIVER: The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly.
Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.
Apologizing for how something was said or how people felt about it is not the same as apologizing for what was actually said, so it’s hard to credit Culliver much for this “apology.” The comment offered by the 49ers did little more to indicate that Culliver was going to take full responsibility for his remarks:
The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris. There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community.
GLAAD, Athlete Ally, and You Can Play, three organizations that advocate for LGBT inclusion in sports, condemned Culliver’s remarks for being “as marginal as they are misguided.” Even former 49ers player Kwame Harris, who was recently outed as gay after he was charged with assaulting a former boyfriend, rebuked Culliver for his abuse of the spotlight:
HARRIS: It’s surprising that in 2013 Chris Culliver would use his 15 minutes to spread vitriol and hate. I recognize that these are comments that he may come to regret and that he may come to see that gay people are not so different than straight people.
There may be something to learn from Culliver’s anti-gay comments. Arguably, from the context of both his original remark and his apology, he may seem to conflate the existence of gay people with the fear that gay people would come on to him. This sense of being sexually threatened reflects how conservatives are constantly arguing that gay people are only defined by their sexual behavior and that they are likewise prone to engaging in sexual abuse. Culliver thinks (but apparently doesn’t feel) that gay people “can’t be… in the locker room,” and that may well be because he’s been led to believe that he will somehow be affected by it.
Culliver is responsible for his own homophobic words and feelings, but society must also take responsibility for the homophobic messages it allows to permeate the culture. No doubt, he has not experienced the end of the fallout on this matter yet, as his apology is not resonating with LGBT groups. Hopefully he will have the chance to learn why his comments were offensive, which is because they simply didn’t reflect the reality of gay people’s lived experience. Ideally, he would then help others to understand the same.
Culliver answered some questions from the press today, but didn’t add very much to his apology. He stuck to his line that, “It was something that I thought, but definitely not something I feel in my heart,” calling it a “joking matter.” When given the opportunity to re-answer the question about having a gay player on the team, he said, “If it is… it is… everybody’s treated equally in the locker room.” Watch it (HT: Towleroad):