Instead of releasing a timely, orderly stream of video blogs for UFC 98, Dana White and co. opted to do a couple before the event and then a multi-part epic afterwards. As with most multi-part epics, the majority is forgettable stuff that should have been edited out. But around the eight-minute mark in this video things get interesting when Dana White does an interview with Edge Magazine and claims that everyone from fighters to fans would be totally cool with an openly gay athlete in the UFC.
This is obviously not true, and Dana White knows it’s not true. What’s amazing is not that he says it anyway, but that he thinks pretending to be ignorant of homophobia in the world of men’s pro sports is the best way to smooth things over with the gay community. It isn’t. It’s blatant pandering, and the effect is actually worse than admitting that the world of MMA would have a tough time adjusting to an openly gay fighter.
Check Dana White’s reasoning for claiming that MMA would welcome a gay fighter with a big, burly hug and a kiss on the cheek: a) grappling is kind of homoerotic to start with, so dudes who do it are cool with gays, and b) the fighters in MMA are all really nice guys. And the fans, that 18-34 male demographic that is so revered for its tolerance and acceptance of all things gay? They wouldn’t care either.
As an attempt to placate the people he offended with his Loretta Hunt blog, this is a miserable failure because it asks them to go along with a story that they know, from experience, to be total bullshit. These are the people who can’t get married in most of the U.S., can’t join the military without keeping part of their identity a closely-guarded secret, and White is telling them that the UFC and its fans would accept them with a good-natured slap on the ass.
Look around at pro football, baseball, basketball, and boxing. Then tell me where the openly gay athletes are. There are undoubtedly gay men in all those sports, and probably at this very moment in the UFC as well, but they know the sporting world isn’t ready to accept them yet.
If Dana White really wants to ingratiate himself to the gay community he shouldn’t try to sell them on the lie that the UFC is somehow more accepting than the rest of the sports world and mainstream American culture in general. He should instead tell them that that’s the version of the UFC he’d like to have someday – the version where no one cares who you sleep with after the fight (even if it’s Jenna Jameson) as long as you deliver inside the cage. But that’s not the world we live in just yet, and no one’s going to be grateful to Dana White for pretending that it is.