By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com August 20 2011 2:10 PM ET
Basketball legend Tim Hardaway, who made news with his antigay views in 2007, now says he’s come around to a supportive position and is opposing the recall of three pro-gay city officials in El Paso, Texas.
Hardaway (pictured), who was a star for the University of Texas at El Paso before going on to his NBA career with the Miami Heat, attended a press conference in El Paso this week in support of Mayor John Cook and City Council members Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega, all of whom voted to restore domestic-partner benefits for city employees after voters repealed the benefits in a referendum last November. Now a group of religious conservatives is seeking to put a measure on the ballot to oust the three from office.
“In asking citizens to oppose the recall, Hardaway said he was asking them not to do what he did,” the El Paso Times reported Friday. It quoted him as saying that after the backlash against his 2007 comments, “I opened my eyes and went to counseling.”
That year, in a radio interview, Hardaway said, “You know, I hate gay people, so let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t want to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the United States.”
In El Paso this week, Hardaway said people with antigay views should “grow up and catch up with the times,” the newspaper reported. It continued, “Hardaway said that what made his earlier statements especially shameful is that, as a black man, he should understand discrimination. And so should El Paso, as it has in the past, he said.” He referred to city’s support in 1966 for a UT-El Paso team with five black starters, which defeated an all-white University of Kentucky team for the national collegiate championship.
Praise for Hardaway’s new stance came quickly. He “shows that is possible for people to change their views,” wrote Jim Buzinski on the website Outsports. “So often we see people apologize for anti-gay comments and it ends there. Hardaway is walking the walk by standing up to bigotry and discrimination. Bravo for him!”