In episode one of Logo's new reality show Shirts & Skins , we were introduced to the Rockdogs, an all-star gay basketball team with aspirations of winning the National Gay Basketball Championship in Chicago.
Last week, openly gay former NBA player John Amaechi stopped by to offer some guidance both on and off the court. Amaechi watched the team play, suggested a few technical tips and then visited the guys at their house.
"I don't think you guys realize how powerful and influential you can be," Amaechi told the Rockdogs, explaining their potential to serve as role models to young gay athletes. While he gave the players insight into thinking of themselves as role models, he also encouraged the athletes to stay true to themselves.
I love the fact Amaechi reinforced the idea these athletes don't have to live by any stereotype. He told them to be authentic - themselves - whoever that may be.
For readers who may not know, Amaechi is also an experienced motivational speaker. His skills were used to great effect during his visit with the team.
In episode one, you couldn't miss the controversy that stirred when Jamel inaccurately claimed that being gay was "a choice." It caused a major rift (and some shouting matches) among his teammates that then carried into episode two.
Amaechi worked to resolve the conflict by creating a safe space for the players. He started by passing a basketball around and allowing only the person with the ball to express how they felt about Jamel's comment.
What started out as verbal attacks aimed at Jamel ended up as a healthy conversation. Rather than giving into bickering and frustration, the players had an honest, heartfelt discussion. They let Jamel know both how his words affected them and also how much they cared about him.