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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Gay in the Life: Matt Herek
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2013-06-26

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Matt Herek was forced into the suit as Dibs the Blue Demon, the mascot for DePaul University, during the 2005 NCAA women's basketball tournament. DePaul was playing Liberty University in the second round and, well, even Dibs has to use the bathroom at times.

Herek had to ask the chancellor of Liberty for assistance with his zipper. The chancellor at the time was, Rev Jerry Falwell.

Herek is now at Northwestern University and though he's no longer strutting around as a mascot, he's still intertwined in the sports world—collegiately, professionally and certainly within the LGBT community.

Take, for instance, the annual Pride Bowl flag football tournament, which is played Friday and Saturday in Chicago. Herek could carry the title "Director of Small But Important Things."

"Our tournament director Brian Kupersmit has done a great job for the past four years growing this tournament to the second-largest LBGT flag football event in the country," Herek said. "So, I look at my role as one that keeps the knucklehead stuff off his desk so that he can concentrate on the perpetual whitewater created by 28 football teams playing 80-plus games over two days."

Herek also will be on the fields officiating.

"I started refereeing men's flag football two years ago as a way to stay involved in the football league without the bruising," he said. "Since then, I have come to really enjoy being on the field with the other refs and the players from the league. Officiating creates a few hours during the week that I don't have to worry about words like 'metrics' and 'budget.' Plus, the stripes are slimming."

Herek added, "I met all of my close friends through CMSA, and they really have become family to me. By officiating, I like to think I'm keeping the league operational and I hope another generation of athletes has the same dumb luck I did."

Herek's sporting passion also extends to sports entertainment, as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) calls it. To Herek and the rest of the world, it's pro wrestling—and that's his body-slamming fun.

"When I was in grade school, my cousins and I would always get together to watch [wrestling] pay-per-views at my grandparent's house," he said. "We'd sit in the basement and cheer our brains out for The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, etc. I never lost my ability to enjoy it."

In fact, he often hosts parties at his home for various WWE events, including WrestleMania.

"I think that [WWE owner] Vince McMahon was, and is, a visionary who never gets credit for being the forerunner for the way we watch and talk about sports today," Herek said. "Watch College Gameday some Saturday and pay attention to the way those guys develop a storyline or narrative. The only thing that's different is that outcome isn't [pre-determined.]"

THE STATS

Age

36

Relationship status

Single

Neighborhood

Sheridan Park

Hobbies

Has played piano since 3rd grade; reading historical non-fiction.

Dream job

Chief of staff to the president of the United States. "I'm at my best when I'm the guy that 'the guy' depends on."

Favorite TV show

Modern Family

Favorite movie

Hoosiers

Four people (living or dead) who you'd like to have dinner with

Steve Martin, Jim Henson, Thomas Edison, and Mark Twain.

Little-known fact

"I've been on the summit of Machu Pichu with the actress who has played Monica Quartermain on General Hospital. I also had to row her through the floating islands on Lake Titicaca."


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