Sports commentator and former NBA star Charles Barkley has a message for the LGBTQ community: “If you’re gay, and transgender – I love you.”
At an appearance at Harvey’s Hotel and Casino in Lake Tahoe, the former NBA player took to the stage to show his support for the gay and trans community to a cheering crowd.
“If anybody gives you shit, you tell them Charles said FUCK YOU!” Barkley vehemently declared.
At a time when the LGBTQ community has been under relentless and ruthless attack from the GOP, far-right extremist groups, and Christo-fascists, to see a high-profile black male celebrity speak out on their behalf – was great to see.
Widely known for his 16 seasons as a professional basketball player, what many don’t know is the TNT sports analyst is a vocal gay rights advocate. Barkley stood up for openly gay NBA player Jason Collins – who came out in 2013 – and criticized North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” in an interview on the Ellen Degeneres show in Feb. 2020.
Barkley got candid with the out and proud Degeneres about the legislation preventing those in the transgender community from using their gender identifying bathroom, telling Degeneres that he “hated it,” according to BET.
House Bill 2 drew backlash from the LGBTQ community and their supporters who called for the 2017 NBA All-Star game to be moved from the state in response – which it was. Barkley had a key role in convincing the league to take that step.
“I think the NBA should move the All-Star game from there next year. As a black person I’m against any form of discrimination, against whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it. It’s my job, with the position of power that I’m in and being able to be on television, I’m supposed to stand up for the people who can’t stand up for themselves. So I think the NBA should move the All-Star game from Charlotte,” Barkely told CNN, according to the Bleacher Report.
Barkley acknowledged the need for those in the Black community to stand up for those in other marginalized communities as well, telling Degeneres, “I think anytime you’re Black, you’ve got to stand up for other people. Black people know what discrimination is like. If you’re in a position of power, you’ve got to always stand up against discrimination.”
When high-profile African-American celebrities like Dave Chappelle have been criticized for making anti-transgender statements, Barkley’s staunch support is a welcome sight. With Barkely so public in his advocacy, let’s hope others with his platform and reach will do the same.
His comments on the stage in Lake Tahoe demonstrate the truth behind his words, “I’m never going to sit back and let discrimination happen on my watch.”
And neither should we.
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