Blue Jay’s anti gay slur sparks outrage

by | Sep 18, 2012 | Sports

Shortstop slapped with a three game suspension over an anti-gay slur written under his eyes.
Yunel Escobar Gay Slur

Yunel Escobar displayed the homophobic slur during Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox. COURTESY Getty Images

By Elton Hobson

While the Toronto Blue Jays may have longed for something to distract from their dismal season, this probably isn’t what they had in mind.

The Blue Jay’s 29-year old shortstop Yunel Escobar remains under fire for writing a potentially anti gay slur in his eyeblack before last Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

The controversy erupted Monday when pictures published online revealed the phrase which most commonly translates to a negative phrase about gays.

The ongoing controversy has put the Cuban shortstop in hot water with fans, his team, and Major League Baseball.

The Toronto Blue Jays benched Escobar for Sunday’s game due to “flu-like symptoms,” and issued a terse statement Monday night distancing themselves from the controversy.

“The Toronto Blue Jays do not support discrimination of any kind nor condone the message displayed by Yunel Escobar during Saturday’s game,” the statement read. “The club takes this situation seriously and is investigating the matter.”

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, it was announced by Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos and head coach Luis Rivera that Escobar would be served with a three game suspension for displaying the anti-gay comments.

Escobar’s actions have drawn the ire of many within the LGBT community.

“Inappropriate doesn’t even begin to describe it,” said Maureen Carnegie, co-ordinator of disability services at Humber college and founder of The Coming Out Group, a support network for gay and lesbian students on campus.

“[Escobar] is a professional athlete, he’s well-known, doing something in the public sphere with fans and children looking up to him,” Carnegie said. “He needs to be held to a higher standard.”

There is a possibility, however, that Escobar did not intend the remark as a homophobic slur.

According to Carlos Parra-Pirela, a researcher at the University of Toronto and Spanish teacher at Humber college, context is everything when it comes to this particular phrase.

“This phrase could be interpreted as homophobic,” Parra-Pirela said. “However words do sometimes evolve, and among young people, those under 25, the phrase has another meaning.”

“In certain contexts, the word ‘Maricon’ is used as a colloquial slang between friends, the closest translation of which would be ‘buddy’,” Parra-Pirela told Humber News.

Regardless of his intention, Escobar will undoubtedly have to answer for his choice of words.

“[Escobar] isn’t the only one who’s responsible in all this,” Carnegie said. “There’s his teammates who knew what he was writing, his managers, the coaches and other team staff who let him go out there with that message on his face, who have to take some responsibility as well.”

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