So the telltale statistic in this landmark instance would be zero. It was zero for the game at Louisiana State, zero at Brigham Young, zero at Saint Louis, zero twice in Philadelphia, zero amid the cozy wilds and gifted hecklers of St. Bonaventure. The first regular season for the first openly gay Division I men’s basketball player nears its end pending a trip to George Washington on Saturday, and it has managed to yield zero anti-gay slurs, taunts, barbs, jeers or insults.
It did, of course, see other attempts at discombobulating. “They would talk about my mohawk,” University of Massachusetts starting junior guard Derrick Gordon said, then he laughed as he does serially, being pretty much 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds of bursting happiness these days. In a land chockablock with studious fans prone to learn the names of opposing players’ girlfriends, zero fans seized upon a detail 20th century fans might have relished.
“I think that’s pretty impressive, and I think it says something about where we’re heading that maybe those aren’t the things college students are going to make fun of,” said Anthony Nicodemo, the basketball coach at Saunders High in Yonkers, N.Y., and a friend of Gordon who came out two seasons ago. “They’re going to pick other things to make fun of. It’s great for college athletics, it’s great for LGBT people and it’s great for the institution [U-Mass.] that has had so much acceptance.”