US Olympic Committee goes anti-gay

Timothy Kincaid

April 29th, 2011

From OutSports

The U.S. Olympic Committee has named Peter Vidmar, a 1984 gold medalist in gymnastics, as its chief of mission for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in London. In this job, Vidmar will be the liaison officer for the U.S. team in dealing with the International Olympic Committee and London organizers.

Vidmar, a Mormon, is an active opponent of gay marriage. In the 2008 fight for Proposition 8 in California, Vidmar donated $2,000 to pass the ballot initiative and also protested in public.

It is not likely that the Olympic Committee deliberately selected Vidmar to slight gay Americans. More likely, they simply don’t consider anti-gay activism to be a disqualifier for its representatives. Equality for gay people is – to the USOC – just “an opinion” over which reasonable people may differ.

In today’s highly competitive television market where a downtick of just a few percentage of viewers can cost the Olympics millions, and in which corporations (including those who fund the olympics) are supportive of gay equality and very hesitant to align with negative associations, this is a risky way to operate.

Michael van Atta

April 29th, 2011

The Olympic Committee has a well-established homophobic past. In the 1980s, the Committee selectively sued the Gay Olympics (now called the Gay Games) in order to prevent the homosexuals from using the word “olympics.” The premise of the suit was that use of the word sullied its meaning and, by extension, was damaging to the mainstream Olympics. Gay Olympics was the only party sued, even though word “olympics” appeared widely at that time–from Special Olympics to the Saturday morning cartoon “Laugh-Olympics” (which I believe was the one with the villain Snidely Whiplash). Unfortunately, the Olympic Committee won their suit, which is why the Gay Olympics became the Gay Games.

TampaZeke

April 29th, 2011

Michael beat me to it.

The Olympic committee has never seemed to be bothered or punished for their long history of homophobia. I don’t see this latest development bothering too many people.

Timothy Kincaid

April 29th, 2011

One interesting side note:

The young attorney representing the USOC argued that it didn’t matter for what reason they wanted to restrict their name or from whom, it belonged to the US Olympic Committee and was theirs to do with, right or wrong.

In 1987, Ronald Reagan appointed that young attorney to the federal bench. His appointment was opposed by Nancy Pelosi due to his USOC work, as she felt it demonstrated an insensitivity to gay people. His bid failed.

However, in 1989 he was re-nominated by George HW Bush and received unanimous consent. He served in the Ninth Circuit as a judge until he recently retired, after ruling on the most controversial and high profile case of his career.

That attorney was Vaughn Walker, the judge that overturned Proposition 8.

Timothy Kincaid

April 29th, 2011

And while I understand the outrage about the denial of the use of Gay Olympics, it appears that there was a LONG history of denial of the use of the name, especially for international sports events.

http://classic-web.archive.org/web/20060307090517/http://www.internationalgames.net/topics/gayolympics.htm

TampaZeke

April 29th, 2011

They didn’t go after the Special Olympics.

Timothy Kincaid

April 29th, 2011

yes, that is the one exception that they made.

tristram

April 29th, 2011

I’ve had the privilege of volunteering at SO events, and whatever the issues involving other groups (even one dear to my heart) using the term ‘olympic,’ I think the Special Olympics are unquestionably deserving of an exception, even if it’s the only one.

Gary Brewton

April 29th, 2011

The US Olympic Committee persecuted Gay Olympics founder Dr. Tom Waddell, trying to take his home: http://articles.latimes.com/1986-10-21/news/mn-6558_1_gay-olympics. This is fag bashing; because it about went far beyond preserving the USOC sole right to use the Olympic name, into the realm of vindictiveness.

Matt

April 30th, 2011

I vaguely recall there were things named “Rodent Olympics” or something like that that the Gay Olympics entered as evidence. Apparently the OC did not mind its use for animals. Just by f*gs.

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