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Posts for April, 2011

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.

Welcome out, Graeme Obree

Timothy Kincaid

January 31st, 2011

Graeme Obree is a bicyclist with an impressive record (bikeradar.com)

Both Obree’s private life and his achievements on the bike have combined to make him one of cycling’s most enigmatic figures. The Scotsman claimed the World individual pursuit title in 1993 and 1995 but is best known for his innovative and pioneering attempts at the World hour record.

He claimed the hour record twice, in 1993 and 1994. The first successful, in Norway, saw him best a nine-year-old record held by Italian Francesco Moser using a hand-made bike constructed from spare parts dubbed ‘Old Faithful’. That record lasted only a week as Englishman Chris Boardman improved on Obree’s effort in Bordeaux, France during a rest day of that year’s Tour de France.

Obree reclaimed the record in April, 1994 on the same track used by his English rival after making adaptations to ‘Old Faithful’. That record was improved upon by Spaniard Miguel Indurain five months later.

But Obree’s accomplishments did not bring satisfaction. Because Obree had as issue nagging at him, one which he desperately sought to hide from himself. It led him to two suicide attempts before seeking professional help. (PinkNews)

“I was brought up thinking you’d be better dead than gay,” he said. “I must have known I was gay and it was so unacceptable.

“I was brought up by a war generation – they grew up when gay people were put in jail. Being homosexual was so unthinkable that you just wouldn’t be gay. I’d no inkling about anything, I just closed down.

“People say, ‘How can you be gay and be married and have kids and not know it?’

“But when I went to my psychologist she reckoned I had the emotional age of about 13 because I’d just closed down.”

But now the hiding is over. Obree came out to his ex-wife and children several years ago – and more importantly, to himself. Today he made his orientation public in a Scottish newspaper.

Gay hockey shocker!!

Timothy Kincaid

November 25th, 2009

There is shocking news in the hockey world this week. A young man who is the son of a team’s general manager, the brother of another team’s scout, and the student manager of his college’s hockey team came out. That wasn’t the shocker.

What has been surprising to me is that no one involved seems to have reacted negatively.

His team responds with acceptance and by trying to cut back on gay slurs in the locker room. His coaches praise him for his contributions. And his father, Mr. Testosterone, has him fly into town so they can go to gay pride together.

But it isn’t just those that know Brendan Burke who are supportive. The news reporters hoping for a Big Controversy were unable to find one. (Globe) The most they could come up with was imagined unspoken uncomfortability.

All of the players said it would not be a problem in today’s NHL for someone on their team to publicly declare his sexual orientation. They said they did not think a gay player would face any harassment from his teammates, although the topic was not one they were willing to discuss for long.

In the Hockey News, a columnist predicts that soon this will be no big deal at all.

In hockey terms, it will be very soon when openly gay students begin to try out for and make high school teams. Their buddies will have known and become accustomed to that fact and it will be no big deal. If openly gay players are good enough, they’ll move on to major junior, college, the American League and the NHL.

All of which is wonderful. And surprising.

But what does it mean?

Well, it certainly isn’t the case that hockey, or any other major sport, is now a welcome space for gay athletes. Nor are locker rooms safe from gay slurs or homophobic banter.

But the significant change that this story illustrates is that overt public homophobia is now no longer seen as acceptable – even in the most masculine of communities.

Gay-hostile comments will continue to trumpet themselves through locker rooms due to bigotry, religion, stereotypes, or ignorance, but the idea of homophobia is no longer welcome. Gay people may still be subjected to abuse, but as with racism or religion-based discrimination, it is no longer socially acceptable to openly and publicly embrace homophobia, even in the hockey locker room.

At times it can be frustrating waiting for our fellow citizens to stop making up excuses for discrimination and unequal rights. It can seem disheartening to watch yet another state give in to its fears and biases. But stories like this remind us that the war is over and we have won.

Yes we have battles to fight, and we may frequently lose, but our biggest obstacle has been surpassed. We have convinced our neighbors that it is a shameful thing to mistreat gay people.

And that is a shocking thing indeed.

Clinton Portis Does Not Come Out Of The Closet

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2009

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis wants you to know that he is not gay. In case you had any doubts, be assured that he’s not because he used 141 words and a photo to prove his point:

“Why did I go blond?” he repeated. “I just felt like doing something different. You know, I think even with that, from what I hear, now I’m gay? I don’t think there’s a woman in the United States of America that would say I’m gay. So, you know, I don’t hang around men, I don’t live a private life, there’s constantly people around me. You know, I did it because that was something that I felt like doing. At the moment it was like, ‘Ohhh, I want to do something weird and different,’ and that’s what I did, I dyed my hair blond. You know, it wasn’t an attention seeker. I actually was out of the country, I left the country after I did it, so I wasn’t even over here once I did it. So it was just an experiment.”

He said when he left the country, it was to go to Berlin. I asked why.

“Just to see the Berlin Wall,” he said.

NFL Fanhouse can’t find anyone saying that Portis might be gay. But just in case someone does, he’s not gay. And the Berlin Wall is still standing. Just so you know.

[via Towleroad]

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