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Mae
harleymae

Gay men in sports keep quiet

First of all, I love Cheech. *heart swells*

Second, Petr Sykora, that dirty goon, cross checked a ref in the back and then grinned harmlessly.

Found this article while looking for Sharks stuff. Probably interesting to a lot of y'all.

Gay men in sports keep quiet

By Mark Purdy

Mercury News

When the news about Sheryl Swoopes broke Wednesday, the most heartening reaction was the lack of much reaction.

In 2005, this should be construed as healthy. After the most valuable player of the Women's NBA announced she is gay, nobody either held a huge parade or condemned her. The only ripple of response was positive, giving Swoopes a pat on the back for being so forthright and unafraid.

That was certainly the case at San Jose's most visible gay institution, the DeFrank Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Center.

``A lot of people are talking about it here,'' said Chris Weber, a DeFrank executive. ``For an MVP of her sport to come out while she's still playing . . . it's obviously a big deal.''

Yes. But let's extend this another logical step. What if the big-name team athlete coming out of the locker-room closet Wednesday had been a man?

``That's a real tough question,'' Weber said.

Tough to ponder, perhaps. But not tough to speculate in terms of consequences for the first openly gay athlete dude, whoever he might be.

Those consequences would not be pleasant. Many would probably applaud that first openly gay athlete dude for his courage. But there would be just as many snickers behind his back. His endorsement contracts would probably dissolve. He would be taunted in opposing stadiums and probably shunned by some of his teammates. The gay-hateful remarks of former 49er Garrison Hearst two years ago -- although he later apologized for them -- were hardly unique to one team or one man.

It's odd. But for whatever reason, today's sports consumers are less freaked out by the concept of lesbian athletes than by homosexual male athletes. Is it the smaller and less rabid fan base of female sports? Is it the longtime out-of-the-closet presence of such individual stars as Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King? Or is it a stronger awareness among those who follow women's teams of how little sexual orientation really matters during the course of a game?

All of the above, one would hope. But with guys, none of the above seems to apply. Let's just say we are a long way from Major League Baseball asking fans to vote for an ``All-Time, All-Gay'' team to be honored with a special pregame ceremony at the World Series.

Weber, the DeFrank Center's development director, deals with the general public every day. He is also a sports lover who plays recreational hockey and attends Cal home football games. Weber wants to believe that a male gay pro sports star would be immediately accepted by fans with no ill will. But he's not naive.

``I don't think the climate is right for that to happen just yet,'' Weber said.

There have been several male team-sport athletes who emerged from the closet -- but always after retiring. One very popular theory is that the first major male team athlete to out himself must be a superstar with awesome on-field credentials, who would have to be respected by opponents and teammates for his stand.

I'm not so sure that's how it must happen. My personal belief: The only way gayness can openly arrive in major league sports is through a team effort. If all the gay players in a given sport could somehow be organized to come out of the closet simultaneously, then no one man would have to bear the abuse that might ensue -- or the burden of having to constantly speak about his sexual orientation to the media at every stop on a road trip.

Also, assuming there are at least one or two gay players on nearly every team, then all the locker rooms would adjust at the same time to the New Outed World Order, then go out and play the games and not worry about it. What would occur if something like this happened in, say, the National Football League?

The NFL might not suffer as big a heart attack as you think. There is certainly sensitivity to gay rights in the league front office. Earlier this month, in a well-publicized event, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and his wife were honored by the New York chapter of the PFFLG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) organization. Tagliabue's son is openly gay. New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft also attended the awards banquet and has contributed financially to the organization.

It's a big jump, of course, from having the support of a commissioner and one owner to having the support of an offensive lineman who has to block for a gay running back and share a locker room with him. It will surely happen one day. But in 2005, the culture of football may not yet be ready.

Good wishes to Sheryl Swoopes, who among other things, now has a chance to show us how little being gay matters at crunch time in a playoff game.

Even better wishes to the first guy who makes the same brave announcement that Sheryl Swoopes did. Better wishes, and a whole lot of luck.

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That was a good article, thanks for posting.

If all the gay players in a given sport could somehow be organized to come out of the closet simultaneously

That would be so great. I'd probably cry.

I know! I wonder if they're in a secret society. :P

If all the gay players in a given sport could somehow be organized to come out of the closet simultaneously

What if that meant every NHler came out? Man, we'd go from 4th sport in America to uh... sixth.

we'd be behind water polo and tennis.

Still ahead of figure skating. *rimshot*

What if that meant every NHler came out?

Hee. Goal celebrations would be even gayer.

This was a very good article. And I think it has a point. It's different for men than it is for women. Especially since there's this whole double standard with most heterosexual men that two women togeter is beautiful, but two men together is an abomination. It's utterly rediculous, but we have to admit it's there. I personally would applaud to no end any male athelete that comes out. But, I am only one person. And, having grown up in Midwest America, I know that my clapping would surely be drowned out by the many, many boos and vows of "I hate that guy now!" that would surround me.






However, I am rooting for Jarkko Ruutu to come out. *nods* Yes... he should. *loves him*

Wot she said.

As I've said many times before--when a gay NHLer comes out of the closet, I'll buy his jersey and wear it as a show of support (even if it's from a team I hate).

I like the idea of them all coming out at once. Strength in numbers! :P

Yes! Where's the AGMH?? The Association for Gay Men in Hocky! I know it exsists!

(Deleted comment)
Petr had one helluva game.

But seriously, in the replay, there's just like... no other way to interpret it. He skates up to the ref and cross checks in the back. Players get away with things if they have big smiles!

nils should totally start using that to his advantage.

He totally could if what he did wasn't so brutally vicious!!!

Is it the smaller and less rabid fan base of female sports? Is it the longtime out-of-the-closet presence of such individual stars as Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King? Or is it a stronger awareness among those who follow women's teams of how little sexual orientation really matters during the course of a game?

Unfortunately, I think it's less that than the idea that female athlete = lesbian. But I hope I'm wrong.

I wouldn't be surprised if some NHL guys were out to their teammates already, because I really do think those guys could deal with it. Most of them, anyway. But a lot of hockey fans? Not so much.

Yeah, that thought occurred to me too. It's "butch" or whatever for women to play sports.

I think that topic was brought up among the Blues players because of the whole Mike Danton incident, and everyone they interviewed seemed pretty receptive.

I'm reminded of an episode of "30 Days", where a fundamental Christian who believes that homosexuality is a sin goes to live with a gay man in the Castro for a month.

One night they're discussing gays in the military and the guy is absolutely against it and would never want to serve in the same unit with someone who's gay, but then when his host asks, "What if it was me?" and he admits that it would be okay then.

So teammates would probably be more receptive because they already know the guy, but like you said, fans wouldn't have that perspective on him and most wouldn't feel the same way.

We had this exercise in class the other day where we wrote up on the board everything anybody had ever heard about gays, lesibans and bisexuals (good or bad) and the majority was negative and about gay men. It's just the inherent sexism involved. Like, what's the worst thing you can call a guy? A girl. We care more if our men are gay, if they act more like "girls."

I loved that 30 days. I think they could have struck home a really good point when he's basically attacked on his first night going out with all those guys' buddies. Everything that he believes to be true, and that he feels in his gut, is attacked and accused of being wrong and it's like... dude, you just got a small hint of what it's like to be gay and constantly being attacked.

The thing is, there's just a certain way that people are raised and... that's it. They get divorced from logic, and everything is interpreted in terms of what they already believe to be true. You see the same thing happen in hockey too, in terms of fans interpreting events selectively depending on team bias rather than on the actual events.

Thanks for posting this Mae. It was a really good article, and I too am hoping that some of the boys are able to be out to their team even if they can't be to the rest of the world.

*peers meaningfully at Adam Oates*

Second, Petr Sykora, that dirty goon, cross checked a ref in the back and then grinned harmlessly.

Heh. But I bet you liked it!

Oh, man. Thank you for posting this article: most definitely an interesting read.

He had a very eventful night, which included getting cross checked, then cross checked into another cross check, then knocked onto his knees, and then knocked down flat as he tried to get up. Oh, and he scored a goal.

Glad you found it interesting!

Nancy Armour also wrote a great article on it. Sheryl Swoopes is my new hero.

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