I do not know Kevin Pillar. Like me, he wakes up in the morning, has people who love him, and is probably an otherwise decent human being. What he did last night, however, was not okay. Upset that Braves pitcher Jason Motte quick pitched him, Pillar resorted to bellowing the word “faggot” back at the mound towards Motte. I don’t have to tell you this is bad and wrong and Pillar shouldn’t have done it. You already know that. Society has moved to a place where people know what they can and cannot be caught saying. Pillar’s apology seems to signal as much:

“It was immature, it was stupid, it was uncalled for. It’s part of the game, it’s just, I’m a competitive guy and heat of the moment. Obviously, I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to reach out and apologize and let him know he didn’t do anything wrong, it was all me. Obviously, something to learn from, something to move on from. Don’t let it define me but really just I think it was just frustration from coming off a really good homestand and really just not even being in any of these ballgames, just coming out flat — not being able to build on what we were about to build on in Seattle. That just all came out in the moment.”

To me, this apology makes a lot of sense. Had Pillar just called Motte a “fucking asshole” and the cameras caught it, this apology doesn’t lead anyone to bat an eye: Heat of the moment, said something I shouldn’t have, I’ll try not to do it again. Of course, Pillar didn’t choose to use a choice word without extra baggage, he chose to use the word faggot. It was a word he was comfortable using in a derogatory manner. An underlying issue is obviously there.

What that issue is, I cannot say. For Pillar, he seems to understand that using the word faggot is a no-no in society and he got caught. What he clearly does not understand is why that word is hurtful and a no-no in the first place. It is a word with one dimension for him. Unfortunately, our social media handwringing is not exactly a conduit for allowing someone to understand why what he did was wrong. Perhaps for you and me, we already understand why the word faggot is so hurtful. I’ve been called a faggot many times in my own life. As a gay person, it’s especially hurtful because its weaponization has a very specific intent. I’m willing to bet Kevin Pillar doesn’t know that. This is a good learning opportunity for him.

Today, the Blue Jays handed down a two-game suspension for Pillar and his forfeited salary will be used as a donation. Hopefully that donation will be put towards an organization like the You Can Play Project which advocates for inclusion in sports. More than anything, Kevin Pillar should spend those days visiting LGBT youth centers.

He should hear from kids who are bullied at school and called a faggot on a daily basis – kids who are thrown out of their homes, lose their friends, or contemplate suicide because of who they are. These kids who the word faggot is meant to define and target most. Pillar should hear the stories of the LGBT experience and have names, stories, and faces put to the word faggot. I’m also willing to bet that once Kevin Pillar spends a few days seeing what the word faggot represents in terms of felt pain, discouragement, and anguish by kids and people in the LGBT community, the word might start to have another dimension added to it. He might truly be able to understand why calling someone a faggot is taboo and expunge it from his vocabulary.

I sincerely hope Kevin Pillar can learn from this incident. While he can’t change what he did, he can still change himself. He can step into our world and see some of the hurt that comes along with it. In the end, hopefully he can see the hurt the word faggot brings. “Faggot” won’t just be any other put-down or curse, it will be a word that has a person, an experience attached to it.

 

Originally published on Kelvin’s Foul Lines Blog.

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