In an incident on social media that occurred earlier this week, poker professional and 2016 World Series of Poker champion Ryan Laplante was the victim of what appears to be a gay bashing attack. In this particular case, it is another poker player who wrote the unfortunate words.
It All Started with a Tweet…
On Tuesday over Twitter, Laplante was apparently discussing Pride Month, the celebration of the contributions to the world from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. In a Tweet, the openly gay Laplante stated, “The reason #PrideMatters (the hashtag for the entire month of June to celebrate the occasion) is because of how important representation is to our society,” Laplante wrote. “How can you feel like you belong, or that you matter, if you don’t see people similar to yourself achieving success? This is why #Pride has been so successful in furthering equality.”
While several people both inside the poker community and friends of Laplante took the time to “like” the tweet, one person decided to bring up Laplante’s lifestyle in the discussion. “The amount of people liking these gay pride tweets are hilarious,” poker player Jesse McVicker Tweeted to Laplante. “Like (sic), were your aware how bad you were before you miracle the 565$ 3 years ago?”
This wasn’t the end of McVicker’s thoughts, however. In further discussion between Laplante and another person, McVicker inserted himself into the Twitter conversation. (Quote) “Like for the laplante fag? And glad you can count. But he’s still gay and you’re still defending a fag on Twitter MAGA,” McVicker wrote. He then tossed on another bomb, saying, “This gay liberal trying to blast one of the best poker players ever. Like kill yourself,” (unquote).
Please consider banning Jesse. The way he talks to other poker players is completely unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/Kbc48FB3Vq
— Daniel K (@aceragoff) June 27, 2018
Laplante: “Speak Out”
Such an attack must come from someone who has a grudge against Laplante, doesn’t it? According to Laplante, he’s “never played with him or spoken with him in any way.” But Laplante has been happy about the support that he’s received from the general community. “People have been very vocal against his hateful speech.”
It also is possible to envision that Laplante, as a member of the LGBT community, has had to deal with this in the poker world previously, but he states that it “very rarely” occurs. In a situation where some people would get angry and lash out, Laplante takes a course that he advises others take in the poker world and in life itself. When I asked him what would stop such horrific homophobic attacks, Laplante calmly replied, “Be out. Be proud. And be a vocal supporter of all rights and equality. Actively speak out against hate and bigotry.”
McVicker: “No Way Do I Hate Homosexuals”
Poker News Daily reached out to McVicker to discuss the situation and he did have some contrition to his thoughts. “This went from a tweet about how attention happy people are on social media to me being a homosexual hating human being…that is just not the case.” McVicker admitted. He did understand how the usage of the homophobic slur looked, however, saying, “It isn’t OK (to have used that term).” He also stated that the “kill yourself” line was directed at another person, not Laplante.
“In no way do I hate or oppose homosexual activities or lifestyles,” McVicker firmly stated. “It’s 2018… I was definitely in the wrong with my comments, but they aren’t stemmed from deep hatred of homosexuals. I got attacked for a misunderstanding and I attacked back in a way I knew would hurt people’s feelings. It blew way out of proportion.”
Poker’s Not Perfect
The poker world is a lot better today regarding many issues that are controversial, but there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. There has been and continues to be a problem with misogyny, on the felt especially and away from it (while the World Poker Tour’s Royal Flush Girls are lovely, they aren’t there for their poker abilities). There are still men who treat women who are playing at the tables like their “darlin’” or “Sugar,” thinking that they are a lesser player than a man they might go against. And, unfortunately, there are some other -isms that come up, perhaps because of our polarizing world that we live in.
Perhaps the best last word could be from Laplante himself. After having dealt with the bashing for his sexuality for probably more years than most of us would like to imagine, I asked him what he wanted as the outcome of this situation. His reply? “I’d like there to be less hate in the world.”