Brian Sandford: Expressing one’s opinion is a fundamental right

“People are only gay for one reason: They want attention.”

My high school friend expressed that opinion multiple times, and I always countered with, “Why would anyone want that kind of attention?”

Because back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, for many acknowledging homosexuality meant wearing a scarlet letter. People came out of the closet not because they wanted to, but because they needed to.

I have several close friends who are gay, and in the late 1980s, each would have been “my gay friend.” Now, each is just “my friend.” The way we regard people has changed — for the better, in my opinion.

All of this comes to mind because Jason Collins, who’s tall but not particularly skilled and therefore has bounced around the National Basketball Association, announced his homosexuality last week. It was a major announcement in the sports world — one you might see as very positive or very negative. Or you might not care.

You have a right to your viewpoint. One of our most fundamental rights as Americans is the freedom to disagree — a major part of our freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. That’s why the fact that people who are shouted down for saying homosexuality is wrong is, in itself, wrong.

As journalists, we operate under the freedom of our nation’s Constitution and therefore get to do our jobs effectively. You would not be reading a column like this in, say, North Korea or Saudi Arabia.

All our opinions swirl together in the world’s greatest melting pot. No matter what your opinion is on this issue, you’re not wrong. You’re entitled to think for yourself without keeping it to yourself, which is the greatest freedom we have in this country.

Brian Sandford can be reached at


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