Archive for the ‘gay’ Category

Removing Statues — Changing Stadium Names

The officials running the city of New Orleans decided to remove the public statues of Confederate States of America figures. Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the City Council sparked both huge protests and large rallies of support. The same historic moments mean heritage to some and bondage and misery to others. The city leaders declared the statues a public nuisance and determined that the pain they inflicted outweighed the heritage they represented. The statues reminded many of their past oppression but also remind people of today’s inequality in New Orleans.

New Orleans is largely segregated. Stagnating wages and gentrification have compounded income disparity here. People in East New Orleans suffer from extremely limited economic and social opportunities and the area has not recovered from Hurricane Katrina.

In Melbourne, the tennis stadium bears the name of tennis great Margaret Court. The 74-year-old is currently a Christian pastor and has over the past several years made anti-gay statements, including personal attacks on specific players. The comments certainly represent the heritage and attitudes of a segment of the population but have also generated significant opposition and backlash. The majority of professional tennis players have made their support for same-sex marriage known.

Several interesting questions arise from this controversy. Does the Australian Tennis Federation elect to remove Court’s name from the stadium because of the public rancor and hurt she now represents? If they don’t will tennis professional elect to skip the Australian Open? Stay tuned.

NHL Forward Thinking Forward

 

Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins faced an interesting choice after receiving a tweet with a homophobic slur in it. Pete Blackburn explains what the Bruins’ left winger did.usatsi_9743954-vadapt-767-high-0

Towards the beginning of his NHL career, Brad Marchand quickly developed a reputation as being a nuisance on the ice. He established himself as an effective pest and agitator, but also was labeled as “dirty” after a few controversial hits and incidents.

In his arsenal of tactics, Marchand has been known to low-bridge, sucker punch and slew foot opponents. His trash talk game is also tremendous and relentless.

While those aspects of his game haven’t completely been eradicated, in the past few years the Bruins winger has become more recognized for his elite two-way skill. He has developed into a leader for the Boston club and, this past fall, scored the clinching goal at the World Cup of Hockey while playing on Canada’s top line alongside Sidney Crosby.

Marchand, 28, credits that growth to being older and more mature, saying his “priorities have changed” over the years. But it’s not just his on-ice play that has become more admirable.

Recently, Marchand has become somewhat of a champion for people in the LGBT community. In December, the winger was attacked on a Twitter with a homophobic slur. In a since-deleted tweet, Marchand responded to the hate by publicly shaming the person who sent the vitriolic remarks his way, saying “this derogatory statement is offensive to so many people around the world, [you’re] the kind of kid parents are ashamed of.” The response prompted the user to delete his account.

Marchand was applauded for standing up for the gay community and taking a proactive approach to silencing the hate, and ESPN’s Joe McDonald recently spoke to Marchand about the exchange.

“I want to stand up for what I believe in, and I don’t think it’s right when people say things or bash people because of their sexual orientation,” said Marchand, via ESPN. “I have friends who are in gay relationships, and I don’t think it’s right for people to be against that. Everyone is allowed to find love whatever way that is, so I felt like that was a time to say something, especially nowadays. We’re in 2017, and things are a lot different than they were 100 years ago. We’re all evolving to be equal, and that’s the way things should be.”

When asked whether or not an openly gay player would be accepted in an NHL locker room, Marchand delivered a strong vote of confidence in favor of equality.

“Guys would accept that, no question,” Marchand assured. “We’re a team in the [dressing] room and a family. It doesn’t matter what different beliefs guys have, or where they come from, or whatever the case may be. Guys would accept it. Again, in the room we’re a family. That’s the way it is on a hockey team, and that’s the way it will always be.”

There has yet to be an openly gay player in the league, though Marchand says it’s “bound to happen at some point, and when it does, it will be accepted.” The NHL has had a large number of players endorse the You Can Play campaign, which is dedicated to eradicating homophobia from sports, so it certainly appears that Marchand isn’t the only star who feels this way.

LGBT Athletes

A new study regarding lesbian, gay, and bisexual athletes throughout the world indicated that the U.S. ranks far behind many other countries in the acceptance of gay and lesbian athletes. An overwhelming number of gay and lesbian athletes remained afraid to indicate their sexual orientation to teammates, coaches and others.

 

A new study estimates that 83 percent of gay male youth athletes in the United States are keeping their sexual orientation hidden from some or all of their teammates. Lesbian athletes in the same age group (under 22 years old) were more willing to be public about it — 63 percent said they were hiding their orientation.

The reason for the secrecy — even in an age when polls show that acceptance has been increasing — is often fear. Nearly half of gay men and 44 percent of lesbians around the world who kept their sexual orientation hidden said they did so in order not to be bullied. In addition, fear of discrimination from coaches or officials was mentioned by 32 percent of gay men and 28 percent of lesbians.

The survey found that 80 percent of the respondents, both gay and heterosexual, had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sports.

Titled “Out On The Fields,” the report was based on a survey of nearly 9,500 gay, bisexual and heterosexual people and claims to be the largest-ever study on homophobia in sports. (The questions only related to sexual orientation, not gender identity, so the study offers no information about transgender athletes.)

After publicizing the anonymous online questionnaire through various media outlets,1 the researchers received answers from several English-speaking countries. The highest numbers of responses came from Australia (3,006), the United States (2,064), the United Kingdom (1,796), Canada (1,123), New Zealand (631) and Ireland (501).

The United States received the lowest overall “inclusion score” of all the countries analyzed, with a high number of respondents saying the U.S. was not accepting of gay athletes. (Though because of the small sample sizes for respondents from New Zealand and Ireland, it isn’t necessarily fair to say that the U.S. ranks worst.)

In a phone interview, the survey’s lead author, Erik Denison, said attitudes about privacy among athletes are often related to the perception of homophobia in sports.

“I made that decision myself when I kept in the closet,” he said. “Implicitly it is about discrimination, though. The straight men can talk openly in conversations about what you did at the weekend, the women they met. If you’re gay though, you either have to make up stories or be excluded. It’s not the same.”

The large scale of the survey, though, doesn’t mean that it is the definitive word on homophobia in sports. Even in countries that had a high number of respondents, it can be difficult to tease out more detailed trends because the subgroups are far too small. Responses were split into youth and adult sports (i.e. under age 22 and over age 22) but also broken out by sports played and the sexual orientation of the respondents.

What’s more, not everyone even said they played sports — among U.S. respondents, for example, 81 percent of gay women and 75 percent of gay men said they participated in youth sports, while 63 percent of gay women and 42 percent of gay men said they participated in adult sports. As a result, the finding that 83 percent of gay male youth athletes keep their sexuality hidden from teammates is based on just 114 individuals.

Denison and his co-author, Alistair Kitchen, both members of Australia’s first gay rugby team, said they were are aware of those limitations. Their international approach was partly informed by the fact that past smaller-scale studies on homophobia in sport have been dismissed for being too limited in scope. The final methodology and findings were reviewed by seven academic experts prior to publication.

Overall, these results should be treated as estimates in an under-researched area filled with speculation, rather than definitive numbers about gay athletes.

Gay respondents were more likely than heterosexual ones to say that homophobia was more common in team sporting environments than in general society. But LGB athletes also related positive reactions to revealing their orientation to their teammates. In its write-up of the report, the gay sports site Outsports.com acknowledged many of the issues cited by respondents but added that “people in sports behave very differently when an athlete actually comes out,” often welcoming the LGB athlete and apologizing for language used in the past.

Denison also described what he called “the snowball effect” — the notion that the more LGB athletes there are who are open about their sexual orientation, the more accepted gay athletes will become in sports. As evidence for that, Denison pointed to the higher share of lesbian athletes in the U.S. who are open about their sexuality with their teammates and the fact that lesbian athletes around the world are more likely to say teams offer them a “supportive and safe environment.”

Because of their visibility, LGB professional athletes are likely more influential than amateurs in getting the snowball effect rolling, but few seem comfortable speaking publicly. The survey allowed respondents to submit detailed stories about themselves — around 1,600 did so. Denison said that about three dozen of those who provided narrative accounts were professional athletes, including at least two on their respective countries’ national teams.

Last year, after the professional football player Michael Sam told ESPN and The New York Times that he is gay, he said he received messages from many fellow athletes who “had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out.”

So far, Sam’s decision has not created a snowball effect in the U.S. — partly because there will need to be other outspoken gay athletes before the sport reaches what Denison describes as “a critical mass.”

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

It Gets Better

The federal government agency I work for created an It Gets Better video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKia_M9Nj0Y

Boxer Comes Out Gay

Of all the sports where a male athlete who is currently competing would come out as gay would you think the first one would be boxing?

Yes, that’s right. Orlando Cruz, one the eve of a title bout, announces he is gay!

http://network.yardbarker.com/all_sports/article_external/boxer_orlando_cruz_reveals_he_is_gay/11877619

Olympics are Great Fun but Not So Gay

Been watching the Olympic Games daily. Enjoying old favorites like gymnastics and soccer to newer games to me like team handball. Saw this great article on Foxsports about gays and lesbian competitors.

It has been a great games for gay Olympians – probably. So few come out that we don’t know who is and isn’t. A survey by Outsports indicated that there are 23 openly gay and lesbian athletes out of 10,000 in the competition.

British equestrian Carl Hesterwon gold in team dressage in London. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe has scored three goals for the U.S. women’s soccer team and several other lesbian players are part of the Dutch field hockey team heading into Friday’s final.

But it’s likely there have been more triumphs by gay and lesbian competitors that the world doesn’t know about.

There are more than 10,000 athletes competing at the London games, but when the gay website OutSports.com set out to count how many were openly gay, it came up with 23.

”It’s an absurdly low number,” said site co-founder Jim Buzinski. He said that compared to the arts, politics or business worlds, ”sports is still the final closet in society.”

Many athletes who come out say it has been a positive experience – and even performance-enhancing. Rapinoe scored two goals in the U.S. team’s semifinal win over Canada.

”I guess it seems like a weight off my shoulders,” she said on the eve of Thursday’s gold medal match against Japan. ”I’ve been playing a lot better than I’ve ever played before. I think I’m just enjoying myself and I’m happy.”

Estimates of the percentage of gay people in any given population vary widely. In a 2010 survey by Britain’s Office for National Statistics, 1.5 percent of respondents identified themselves as gay or bisexual, although many consider that an underestimate.

More scores are in the books, medals around necks. Find out who’s golden, and who’s on their way, with our full Olympics results.

Only a handful of Olympic competitors have publicly identified themselves as gay, including Hester, Rapinoe, U.S. basketball player Seimone Augustus, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham and South African archer Karen Hultzer, who came out to the media during the games.

”I am an archer, middle-aged and a lesbian,” the 46-year-old athlete told OutSports – but said she looked forward to the day when her sexuality was not an issues.

”I am also cranky before my first cup of coffee,” she said. ”None of these aspects define who I am, they are simply part of me.”

Gay sports groups say the London games organizers have been welcoming, including gay, lesbian and transgender volunteers among its staff and sanctioning an official games rainbow pin.

The London Pride House, a gay hospitality venue, had official approval from games organizers. London organizing chief executive Paul Deighton said the site helped show Britain as an inclusive place ”which welcomes the world’s diverse communities and creates a safe sporting environment for LGBT athletes.”

Looks like the tweeting is getting a little friendlier between the athletes. See their latest tweets.

But activists fear the next host city – Sochi in southern Russia – will be far less gay-friendly. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment remains strong. Protests by gay rights activists regularly end in mass arrests.

British rights activist Peter Tatchell and a handful of supporters rallied Thursday outside Russia’s Sochi Park pavilion in London to protest Russian authorities’ refusal to allow a pride house at the 2014 Winter Games – a decision that was backed up by a Russian court.

”Quite clearly, this ban is in violation of the Olympic charter, which prohibits discrimination and guarantees equality,” Tatchell said. He said the International Olympic Committee ”doesn’t appear to want to engage with this issue.”

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said the IOC would not comment ”on private court cases,” but added that ”the IOC is an open organization and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the games.”

 

Marc Naimark of the Federation of Gay Games said the IOC should pressure countries to repeal anti-gay laws the way it once excluded South Africa for its racial apartheid policy and, more recently, succeeded in getting all competing nations to include female athletes on their teams in London.

”The lack of ‘out’ athletes in the Olympics is a symptom,” Naimark said. ”It’s not the problem.”

There is a particular dearth of openly gay male Olympians – there are only three men on that London list of 23. The most high-profile is Mitcham, whose Twitter biography calls him ”that gay, 2008-Olympic-gold-medal-winning diver dude.” He’ll be defending his 10-meter springboard title at the games this weekend.

Rapinoe, who came out earlier this year, said it was more difficult for male athletes than for women to be open about their sexuality.

”I think there’s a lot of gay women in sports, and it’s widely known in the team, they can live a pretty open lifestyle without being open in the media,” she said. ”But I think for men unfortunately it’s not the same climate in the locker room.”

 

There’s also the fear of losing lucrative commercial endorsements. Sponsors would never admit that they would drop an athlete who came out as gay, but few competitors would want to risk it.

Much was made of the fact that former NBA player John Amaechi signed an endorsement deal with razor company HeadBlade after he came out in 2007. But HeadBlade is small potatoes compared to Adidas or other huge sports sponsors.

Times may be changing, however. Adidas spokeswoman Katja Schreiber said the company would stand by an athlete who chose to come out of the closet.

Buzinski thinks the environment for gay athletes is improving. He points to the growing number of athletes, gay and straight, who are prepared to speak out against homophobia.

 

 

Outrage: Documentary Few Saw

Outrage: the actions of closeted homosexual, gay, bisexual and lesbian politicians who vote against any legislation that advances the rights and offers benefits to gay people, including gay marriage, benefits, equal protection under the law, gays in the military.

Outrage: closeted homosexual, and out gay, bisexual and lesbian politicians political operatives who run political campaigns that demonize homosexuality and strike fear into people in order to have their candidates win elections.

Outrage: the energy that motivates certain reporters and bloggers to report on the closeted political figures who are hypocritical because they demonize gay and lesbian people.

Outrage: what viewers might feel as they watch the movie Outrage

http://youtu.be/NaTsmXaw5NQ

The argument is that these repressed people with homosexual desires attack the gay, lesbian community more in order to be seen as not gay or lesbian. There is some validity to this, especially for people who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. The outing is a fight back method to force these politicians to end their hypocricy. The belief is that if everyone comes out then it will be harder for people to be anti-gay/lesbian.

There are interesting questions about the psychology of these politicians and political operatives but also about the people who marry them and what there lives must be like being with someone who is leading a double life.

What works less successfully are:

The movie does not address the page scandal that rocked Congress in the early 1980s, virtually forcing Congressman Gerry Stubbs to come out. Nor does it discuss Congressman Bob Bauman and his arrest for attempting to solicit sex from a male prostitute. These would have been interesting to establish context and to discusds how difficult it is for some people to come out.

whether being a Republican means more as an identity to these politicians and political operatives than being gay or lesbian. One could argue that the politicians are being hypocritical but also are Republicians who believe in most of the party’s creed. They care less about their gay identity, if they even have such an identity.

whether the politicians can vote against these laws because they view the laws as having no effect on their daily lives as opposed to the effect that coming out would have on their lives.