Kobe Bryant scolds fan for using "gay" as an insult

NBA Superstar Kobe Bryant told a fan on twitter that he shouldn't try to insult someone by calling them 'gay.'

It started with this tweet:



Which led to this reaction from Kobe:



Kobe, of course, is no stranger to this controversy - having been on the receiving end of a similar scolding from the NBA (along with a $100,000 fine) for calling a referee a f*cking f*ggot during a game in 2011.  Someone challenged him on this:



And he answered.



When we talk about the casual homophobia that exists in the world of sports, this is exactly the result we want to see. Before the ref incident, it's very possible Kobe had never really thought about the way his LGBT fans would feel if, in the heat of the moment, the worst insult he could think of was an anti-gay slur.

The fine sent a very powerful message to fans that the league was taking this matter seriously, and that's important. But what's more important than whatever disciplinary actions were taken was the conversation that followed. Kobe's slur became the talk of the sports world for more than a week. Athletes and fans alike - including Kobe - were thinking and talking about language and LGBT inclusion in a way they maybe never had before. 

This is exactly the message we stressed to the NBA's rookie classes of 2011 and 2012 when GLAAD and Athlete Ally had the chance to address them last year. It's exactly the message that GLAAD and You Can Play sent to the Toronto Blue Jays and Yunel Escobar when he wrote an anti-gay slur on his eye-black.  And it's exactly the message that all three of our organizations are currently in the process of speaking to the other leagues about sharing with their players. 

You Can Play co-founder Patrick Burke told Outsports “I’m very excited to see Kobe taking an active stand on this. His actions are proof that athletes who use casual homophobia can be educated on this issue. Athletes who are given a chance to learn from their mistakes can become some of the LGBT community’s most valuable supporters.”

We've seen it with Tim Hardaway. We've now seen it with Kobe. Will we see similar turnarounds from other athletes who make anti-gay statements? 

Only if we give them that chance.