Rick Sanchez: 'Bachelor' Needs To Be Understood, Not Shamed

If having or sharing an opinion is all you have to do these days to get a full-throated measure of condemnation, then who among us will dare say anything? Once again, I must remind my media colleagues that controversial comments should be the beginning of a conversation, not the end.

Too often, mistaken or muddled palaver is followed by a career death knell; which is exactly what some in the gay community are sounding after hearing Juan Pablo Galavis’ unfortunate quote on The TV Page Sean Daly.

The fury over Galavis’ comment has been swift and vicious. Its aim clearly is to castigate rather than correct and it’s been filled with words meant to humiliate, like ‘horrendous’ and ‘embarrassing.’

— Rick Sanchez

I don’t make a habit of sticking up for reality show stars, mostly because I don’t watch them. However, I feel compelled to try and call off the attack dogs and ask for some compassion in the case of a fellow Latino who erred in not taking a true measure of the times we live in.

First, we must recognize that Galavis is famous because he’s very attractive. His claim to fame? He scored the coveted role as “The Bachelor.” By all measures, he seems a simple man thrust into the bright glare of sudden fame. It’s a scary place for the newly initiated where many have found themselves trapped by their own words.

So it is with Galavis, when he was asked whether there should be a gay edition of “The Bachelor.” Here’s his answer:

"No ... I respect [gay people] but, honestly, I don't think it's a good example for kids..."

Galavis’ response may not be the most prudent retort, but it’s an honest response which is shared by many Americans.

An online gaming magazine recently asked parents what they thought was the most offensive thing in a video game. Among the choices were “a graphically-severed human head” or “two men kissing.” Which one did parents find most offensive? If you guessed ‘a graphically-severed head’ you are wrong. Respondents said they found men kissing more offensive. Whether we like it or not, many Americans’ level of comfort with homosexuality is simply not where gay activists want it to be. Knowing that, what should their proper response be? Let’s ponder that later, first let’s get back to Galavis, who in a horribly broken English then goes on to say:

"People have their husband and wife and kids and that is how we are brought up. Now there is fathers having kids and all that, and it is hard for me to understand that too in the sense of a household having peoples… Two parents sleeping in the same bed and the kid going into bed… It is confusing in a sense."

Did you hear what he said?  It’s hard for him to understand, emphasis on “HIM.”

Asked a question, he gave an answer. Is it the right answer? Obviously not, but it’s based on his values and his life experiences. Wouldn’t members of the LGBT community who are presently lambasting Galavis serve their cause better by trying to understand him, rather than condemning him? Isn’t understanding a much sturdier tool for bridge-building than, say, humiliation?

The fury over Galavis’ comment has been swift and vicious. Its aim clearly is to castigate rather than correct and it’s been filled with words meant to humiliate, like ‘horrendous’ and ‘embarrassing.’

Yes, Galavis did make this cringe-worthy comment:

"There's this thing about gay people ... it seems to me, and I don't know if I'm mistaken or not ... but they're more 'pervert' in a sense. And to me the show would be too strong... too hard to watch."

But he followed it up with this apologetic explanation:

“The word pervert was not what I meant to say and I am very sorry about it. Everyone knows English is my second language and my vocabulary is not as broad as it is in Spanish and, because of this, sometimes I use the wrong words to express myself.”

I take him at his word because, as a person who learned English as a second language, I understand that people make mistakes. I have many friends whose English is as imperfect as Galavis’ and I quite often find myself correcting them.

A young man who knows not the modern ways of American thinking, nor the nuances of our language, needs to be understood, not shamed!

Gay rights activists must grapple with finding the right response. Wouldn’t they do well to teach and correct, rather than shun and humiliate?