Thorpe Comes Out

Good for Ian Thorpe. Strange that so many people like myself always believed that he was gay despite his recent (2012) autobiography in which he categorically denied ever having anything other than heterosexual experiences. Sometimes, the most interesting thing is to read the comments afterwards. So many people write that they are sick of articles like this and don’t care to hear about the athlete’s sexuality. However, the miss the point about how the lies and secrets effect the person/ the athlete.

Ian Thorpe reveals he is gay

Updated: July 13, 2014, 9:12 AM ET

Associated Press

SYDNEY — Five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Ian Thorpe for the first time publicly confirmed that he is gay during a television interview on Sunday, ending years of speculation about his sexuality.

Thorpe, who had long denied that he was gay, told British talk show host Michael Parkinson in an interview broadcast on Australia’s Channel 10 that he just recently realized the truth about himself.

“I’m not straight,” Thorpe said. “And this is only something that very recently — we’re talking in the past two weeks — I’ve been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that.”

For years, Thorpe took great pains to hide his sexuality. In his 2012 autobiography, “This Is Me,” Thorpe wrote, “For the record, I am not gay and all of my sexual experiences have been straight. I’m attracted to women, I love children, and aspire to have a family one day.”

Thorpe, 31, said being asked about his sexuality by journalists when he was just a teenager forced him to adopt a defensive attitude toward the issue. He was too young to know whether he was gay or straight, and said he responded that he was straight to avoid teasing from classmates. Things spiraled from there.

“I felt the lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity,” he said. “And a little bit of ego comes into this; I didn’t want people to question … have I lied about everything?”

Now, he says, he wishes he had come out sooner.

“I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man,” he said. “And I don’t want young people to feel the same way that I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.”

Part of his reluctance to come out, he said, was fear of letting his family and his fans down.

“I wanted to make my family proud. I wanted to make my nation proud of me. And part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay,” he said. “But I’m telling not only Australia, but I’m telling the world, that I am.”

Ian Thorpe, a five-time Olympic gold medalist, ended years of speculation about his sexuality, saying “I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man.”

Thorpe added that he is looking forward to living his life openly, without the burden of carrying a secret. He wants to find a partner, he said, and start a family.

Thorpe retired from swimming in 2012 after winning five Olympic gold medals, three silvers, and one bronze, and setting 22 world records.

Known to fans as “the Thorpedo,” he was just 14 when he was first chosen to represent Australia, and became swimming’s youngest world champion at that age when he won the 400-meter freestyle at the 1998 worlds in Perth.

His career peaked at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where he won three gold and two silver medals. He retired after the 2004 Athens Olympics, citing a lack of motivation, but made an unsuccessful comeback when he tried to qualify for the 2012 London Games.

In the interview, Thorpe also spoke at length about the often crippling depression he has struggled with since he was a teenager, which led him at one point to contemplate suicide. When antidepressants failed to help, he said, he turned to alcohol to ease his pain.

“I kind of felt that it was unfair, that I was doing the right thing, taking the antidepressant, and I’m still miserable,” he said. “So I tried drinking.”

“How hard?” Parkinson asked.

“Well, I didn’t have to try that hard,” Thorpe responded with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Thorpe said he is still struggling with a broken shoulder. He contracted a serious infection when he underwent surgery earlier this year and said he still faces the prospect of more operations.

“I have to be realistic with my expectations, that I may not be able to lift my arm above my head, which would mean that I may never swim again,” he said. “It’s tough. Because I want to be able to swim.”

 

Buyer and Cellar

Great production at the Shakespeare Harman Theater in Washington, DC with Michael Urie reprising his off-Broadway role of an unemployed actor who takes a job as the guard/salesperson in the mall at Barbra Streisand’s house. A wonderful 90-minute one person stage comedy, the piece hit the right note of celebrity insight and pathos throughout the evening.

Buyer and Cellar’s script was excellent. Most refreshing and unusual was the upbeat feeling the play generated and the even-handed tone with which it treated its characters. The play gives equal voice to the main character, to Streisand and to the boy friend of the actor. This boyfriend earns many of the laughs as a surrogate for many of the gay men in the audience who are Streisand aficionados, Barbra queens, or divas in their own minds.

Urie made the play work. His energy seemed unflagging and he played each character with a sensitivity that made them feel unique. Testament to his performance is the play is closing in New York at the end of July.

Sam I Am a Ram

My favorite pro football team drafted the first openly gay player in yesterday’s NFL draft. Yes, Michael Sam went in the 7th and final round of that draft to the st. Louis Rams. His landing as the 34th pick in that round, meant that only seven other men were drafted after him. Two teams, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Oakland Raiders, chose not to select anyone in that round before the Rams selected Sam.

One commentator noted that the SEC Defensive players of the year for the last decade, all were drafted in the first or second rounds. Still, a quick review notes that not all warranted such a top selection.

Sam ranked number 19 among the draft’s defensive lineman. This rating by NFL experts, indicated that it was possible he night not have gotten drafted at all. That would have provided the NFL with a public relations challenge. There are a total of 256 slots to pick players in the draft and defensive line is but one of ten groups of positions on a football team. Simply put, there were 18 players ahead of Sam in the ranking of defensive line and another 18 that might be considered “better” athletes in each of the nine other positions as well.

This is so powerful and worth seeing:

 

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/12/us/michael-sam-nfl-kiss-reaction/

Each team weighed its needs at each of the ten groupings of positions and who among the athletes left to be drafted had the most athleticism and the character best suited to their team, during each round. The Rams selected an outstanding defensive lineman in the first round, and already have several outstanding lineman on their team. However, the NFL has changed many rules of recent years to open up the passing game. The idea is that fans like offense and the game is more entertaining this way. So many teams are acquiring top defensive lineman to put more pressure on the quarterback to reduce the time that they have to throw the ball and find open receivers. Sam can be a reserve lineman, coming in on certain downs to spell other players and add his particular dimension to the pass rush. Hopefully he can succeed. Below is an article about the fit between Sam and the Rams!

http://espn.go.com/nfl/draft2014/story/_/id/10915199/michael-sam-great-opportunity-succeed-st-louis-rams

Idaho and Nature

American History Museum held a screening for the DC Environmental Film Festival which is always a good place to see the latest in documentaries. I really enjoyed Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley because it gave equal attention to the complex beliefs and attitudes of all sides on the question of having wolves in the state of Idaho. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCSFwE2dkdk You watch and wish all the people could put aside their attitudes and reach a consensus. The claim of the movie is that the wolf debate is really a debate about different approaches to life by two or three different groups of people and they don’t really like or respect one another.

Death of an Owner

When I wrote my latest book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball,  I was able to speak to one of the owners of the Baltimore Bullets. Unfortunately, another had died and I was unable to reach the third, Arnold Heft. Two days ago I read that he died.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/arnold-a-heft-owner-of-horses-nba-team-dies-at-94/2014/03/26/fc810a4a-b501-11e3-8020-b2d790b3c9e1_story.html

Wish I had spoken to him about the Washington Bullets and owning the Capital Centre.

First Openly Gay Athlete to Play Coming Soon??

The Brooklyn Nets might make history this season. They are looking for a big center for their roster and have two choices in mind.

The ESPN article below makes mention of gay history five paragraphs into the piece:

http://espn.go.com/newyork/nba/story/_/id/10505461/brooklyn-nets-await-glen-davis-decision-trying-add-jason-collins

Historic Arena Saved

The DC Preservation League celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first US concert while enjoying the years of hard work they put in to save Uline Arena and the Washington Coliseum from being torn down.

Here’s the video telling the story:

Beatles First US Concert

The DC Preservation League sponsored a celebration of the Beatles First US Concert. It happened 50 years ago at the Washington Coliseum. I have a few photos from the event.

partying in the old ticket booth at Washington Coliseum

My book, the Bullets, the Wizards and Washington, DC Basketbalfeatures all the basketball teams that played at Uline Area/Washington Coliseum. I spoke in the documentary the DCPL created to celebrate this building’s history. The model for the renovation of the building appears below.

model for new building

One last look at the old arena’s floor.

2014-02-11 19.36.07

 

What it looked like nearly 70 years ago:

Uline Arena-1941

 

Tar Sands Skating

Given the winter weather throughout the US, it should be no surprise that I went skating. Except it wasn’t outside and it wasn’t on ice. The Corcoran Gallery of Art has a show that features a skating rink inside its rotunda. It’s a synthetic black skating rink and it was fun skating around inside it.

Once you step out you look at the blades and see a gooey tar. A volunteer takes the skates from you and wipes the black gook off the blades. You look up over the rink and see these dead tree stumps and dead ravens hanging upside down.

 

Mia_Feuer_An_Unkindness_Web_Image_2

Mia Feuer’s new project is a haunting vision of nature consumed, transformed, and twisted by human need. Inspired by the artist’s experiences in the oil-producing landscapes of the Canadian tar sands, the Arctic Circle, and the Suez Canal, An Unkindness explores the relationships between human infrastructure and the natural world.

For the past several years, Feuer has traveled around the world to places where oil is extracted from the earth and created work that responds to the social and environmental effects of that process. In 2011 and 2012, she gained restricted access to an oil production plant in the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, where she observed an ecosystem reshaped—with nightmarish logic—by desolate plains, inverted trees, and imported birds of prey. Responding to this landscape, Feuer developed An Unkindness, the title of which refers to a gathering of ravens. In the exhibition, Feuer merges imagery from the oil sands with her own experiences growing up in Canada and her research into ecological systems worldwide.

TransCanada has said that without the Keystone pipeline much of the tar sands oil will not be accessible. Looking at the decimation already wrought by the digging, can we allow more digging to happen? I’d say no, especially thinking about global warming.

Sports Fans

I wrote The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball partly because I was amazed at the issue of fans and their support of the DC teams over the years.

.Image

Even when the Bullets were good, the numbers of fans were not as great as you’d expect. And when the Wizards were bad, man, fans had it tough.

Image

I’m working on two papers that I’ll be giving at the Popular Culture Association in Chicago and the North American Society for Sports History in Glenwood Springs, Colorado early this year.

Crunched some figures about numbers of fans who are linked to certain sports teams on Facebook. I looked at cities in the US that have teams in the four major US professional sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey). These cities are Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix and San Francisco. I divided the number of fans on Facebook into the population of the metropolitan areas from the 2010 Census to determine the percentage of the population showing fan interest for each team.

The results show that Washington has the lowest percentage of its population involved with its teams and Phoenix has the second lowest. Boston has the highest. The data appears below organized by sport.

By Sport: (ranked by percentage of population)

Baseball

Red Sox  4,185,683 (92%)
688,605

Yankees  6,651,882 (68%) #1 in the New York area
1,034,752

SF Giants  1,866,243 (43%)
544,563

Cubs 1,874,234 (39%) #1 in the Chicago area
296,564

Detroit Tigers  1,404,184  (33%)
364,344

Texas Rangers  1,648,160 (26%)
345,642

White Sox  1,117,960 (23%)
166,165

Phillies  1,368,839 (23%)
792,530

Rockies  579,638 (23%)
110,404

Diamondbacks  371,803 (9%)
109,457

Mets  711,431 (7%)
222,596

Marlins  349,337 (6%)
102,530

Nationals  270,473 (5%)
154,611

Football (ranked by percentage of population)

Patriots  4,346,695 (95%)
777,350

Cowboys   5,896,128 (92%) #1 in the Dallas area
762,964

Broncos  2,014,604 (79%) #1 in the Denver area
420,029

49ers  2,332,133 (54%) #1 in the San Francisco area
562,706

Eagles  2,277,997 (38%) #1 in the Philadelphia area
414,192

Bears  3,062,435 (32%)
414,020

Giants  2,883,522 (29%)
538,485

Dolphins  1,496,534 (27%)
282,758

Lions  1,089,921  (25%)
304,469

Redskins  1,270,765 (23%) #1 in the Washington area
271,865

Cardinals: 667,826 (16%)
81,230

Jets  1,568,587  (16%)
618,924

Basketball (ranked by percentage of population)

Heat  9,483,777 (170%) #1 n the Miami area
2,111,279

Celtics 7,351,417 (162%) #1 in the Boston area
1,333,231

Nuggets  1,252,113 (49%)
255,361

Mavericks  2,756,809 (43%)
378,697

Knicks  4,148,183 (42%)

Suns  1,061,293 (25%) #1 in the Phoenix area
237,829

Warriors  929,247 (21%)
325,560

Pistons  714,206  (17%)
223,643

Nets 1,403,669 (15%)
366,964

Sixers  539,415 (9%)
264,650

Wizards  286,115 (5%)
195,223

Hockey:

Red Wings  1,492,132 (34%) #1 in the Detroit area
374,117

Bruins   1,516,883 (33%)
482,948

Avalanche  460,522 (18%)
148,098

Black Hawks  1,568,115 (17%)
480,212

Flyers  914,211 (15%)
300,810

Sharks  608,476 (14%)
185,226

Rangers  1,081,743 (11%)
279,517

Capitals  536,195 (10%)
198,594

Coyotes  148,657 (4%)
98,771

Stars  216,058 (3%)
137,717

Panthers  102,193 (2%)
93,960

Islanders  142,380 (1%)
101,573

 

 

 

 

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