A Cincinnati Reds and FOX Sports NFL Sunday broadcaster, Thom Brennaman, recently lost both jobs for uttering a highly offensive homophobic slur on air. He did attempt to make a public apology, stating something to the effect of that he didn’t fully appreciate how hateful that phrase is and the history behind it.
I’ll give him this. Thom Brennaman and I are roughly the same age. I remember, as a kid in grade school, junior high, and high school, we would utter this phrase frequently. I’m frankly embarrassed that I used to use that term, as did my friends. Still, here we are 35 years later, with better-trained ears and sensitivity toward other people and other persuasions to now fully understand and appreciate how hateful that term is.
For Mr. Brennaman to say, “I still didn’t know,” a generation and a half later, is poor form. If you would find yourself in a similar position, you’re going to have to come clean about your ignorance. You will have to say something like, “I just saw something I didn’t like seeing in myself. I am, in fact, homophobic for using that term, and I need to do some soul searching to figure out who I am.”
That’s the only truthful, genuine, empathetic, and sincere, actionable way out of that. Otherwise, I think all you do is exacerbate the problem.
If you need another example, look at Paula Deen. She used to be a hugely lauded Food Network host and a one-time Rose Parade Grand Marshall. Those accolades came before she got caught in a deposition acknowledging her use of a racial slur for which she offered little in the way of an apology. We haven’t seen Paula on the national stage since. I suspect Thom Brennaman’s career will go the same route. At best, we don’t see him again for a long time, but I think odds are, we won’t see him again.