Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-06-09
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Heroics: Carrying a Torch for Gay Olympians
by Jim Provenzano
2004-08-11

This article shared 5157 times since Wed Aug 11, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Imagine yourself a new Olympic medalist, your heart racing, the crowd cheering, bowing slightly to receive your prize for the fastest run, the strongest lift, or the highest leap. With millions watching, do you wave, smile, and then unleash your rainbow flag?

If you want to become the next sponsored celebrity jock on a cereal box, probably not.

More often, gay and lesbian Olympic athletes—like swimmers Mark Tewksbury and Bruce Hayes, diver Greg Louganis, and rower Holly Metcalf—have come out after winning those all-important medals.

Metcalf now coaches, as does California swimmer Dan Veatch, who competed in backstroke at 1988's Seoul Olympics, when, Veatch says, 'I was 23, and had not dealt with my sexuality yet. And there was much greater pressure at the trials than at the Olympics. You have to finish first or second to represent the United States. But once you're [at the Olympics], your goals change from actually competing, to making finals, to winning a medal.'

Veatch admires other gay athletes (he won nine medals at the 1998 Gay Games V); but as for coming out at the Olympic level, 'I don't know what it would be like now. It was more of a nonissue at that point in my life. The media, and recent legislation, have come far in 20 years, so it's easier for athletes.'

At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, almost 20 gay and lesbian competitors were out, but received minor attention limited mostly to the gay media.

Convincing even the least famous of sports celebrities to 'officially' come out has never been easy. Even straight athletes who comment on rumors are sometimes thought to be gay. Those who pose shirtless or who model underwear attract speculation—possibly deserved—from gay fans.

But the only practical way for progress to be made is by nurturing an environment of equality from the ground up.

At a recent panel organized at San Francisco's Washington High School, I spoke, along with Bay Area gay and lesbian athletes and coaches, about our experiences. This empowering Gay Day would be controversial anywhere else, but the school is an exception—it even has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Chuck Louden, a coach for an international school, told of his coming out as a track coach. It was his honesty and persistence that overcame any homophobia and led to a tolerant environment. 'I try to be the coach I never had,' he said.

At universities, greater progress is being made, but even there, sometimes it takes a lawsuit. When Andrea Zimbardi, a former catcher for the University of Florida's (UF) varsity women's softball team, was released from the team shortly after alleging sexual orientation discrimination, she went to the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), which helped her win an agreement that instills education, growth, and change. UF will provide training to combat homophobia in sports to its entire athletic department, including athletic directors, coaches, and staff.

NCLR's Homophobia in Sports Project coordinator Helen Carroll, who coached basketball for decades, said, 'I believe this top-rated athletic program will be even better as a result of this agreement.' UF was asked to restore Zimbardi's final year of NCAA eligibility and to pay for her Master's degree studies at the university.

'My goal from the very beginning has been to help ensure that other gay and lesbian athletes at UF feel welcome, accepted, and judged solely on their talent,' said Zimbardi.

Since many Olympic athletes train in college programs, how long before such change affects their lives? Despite the gossipy news of Durex giving out about 50 condoms per athlete in Athens, the atmosphere in the city, unlike in ancient times, seems far less romantic.

Hundreds of military guards have been hired to provide security at the event. A bombing earlier this year in Athens—and a recent power failure—further showed the city's problems as host. The BBC reported that more than two dozen workers died in the hasty rush to complete facilities.

The Olympic Games haven't been gay-friendly in, well, centuries. Its contestants may become heroes to specific communities. However, most athletes undergo years training not just for their country, but for their own glory, an obsessive personal goal to be the best, and, of course, lucrative sponsorship deals. Until gay and gay-friendly corporations offer the same benefits as Nike or Adidas, this may take a while.

Look closer to home for heroes, where future Olympians learn, and gay and lesbian coaches can teach them.

Jim Provenzano is the author of the novels PINS and Monkey Suits. Read more sports articles at www.sportscomplex.org . He can be reached care of this publication or at sportscomplex@qsyndicate.com .

Also see:

www.nclrights.org

homophobiainsports.com


This article shared 5157 times since Wed Aug 11, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Biles takes bronze in final gymnastics event of Tokyo Olympics 2021-08-03
- Simone Biles ended her 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a bronze medal on the balance beam—the last event of the women's gymnastics competition. Biles missed the finals on vault, uneven bars and floor exercise, as well as ...


Gay News

Olympics: IOC investigating out shot-putter for protest gesture 2021-08-03
- U.S. shot-putter Raven Saunders—a Black, LGBTQ athlete—has explained what the gesture she made following her silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics meant, according to CNN.com. She raised her hands and crossed them in an X ...


Gay News

Olympics: U.S. women's soccer team loses, must play bronze-medal match 2021-08-02
- At the Tokyo Olympics, Canada stunned the United States 1-0 in the women's soccer semifinals to advance to the gold-medal match on Aug. 2. According to ESPN.com, the USWNT has now failed to reach the final ...


Gay News

Women's soccer roundup: Injured player in Olympics match, Red Stars win 2021-08-01
- United States women's national team (USWNT) and Chicago Red Stars player Alyssa Naeher was forced off with an injury in the first half of the USWNT's Olympics semifinal against Canada on Aug. 2, according to ESPN.com. ...


Gay News

WORLD Central America migration, New Zealand, asylum, Olympics 2021-08-01
- A State Department spokesperson said the United States will continue to urge the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to protect LGBTQ rights as part of its efforts to address the "root causes" of migration ...


Gay News

OLYMPICS U.S. women's basketball team wins, but there are concerns 2021-07-30
- The U.S. beat Japan 86-69 on July 30, three days after beating Nigeria by nine in the opener, according to ESPN.com. That was the first time a team had come within single digits of the U.S. team in the Olympics since ...


Gay News

Olympics: Japan tops U.S. in gold-medal softball game 2021-07-27
- In the Olympics, host country Japan beat the United States 2-0 to take the gold medal on July 27. Softball was added to the games at host country Japan's request, and from the moment it became ...


Gay News

NBC Sports apologizes for misgendering Olympian; GLAAD responds 2021-07-27
- GLAAD responded to media coverage of the first several days of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, including the misgendering of Team USA skateboarder Alana Smith. Smith made Olympic history July 25 as the first ...


Gay News

Olympics: Women's soccer team advances to quarterfinals 2021-07-27
- United States women's national team (USWNT) forward Alex Morgan had a goal disallowed as the squad settled for a 0-0 tie with Australia in its final game of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics group stage, ESPN.com noted. ...


Gay News

Gay British diver wins Olympic gold 2021-07-27
- The British team of Tom Daley and Matty Lee narrowly won the 10-meter synchronized diving competition on July 26 at the Tokyo Olympics, upsetting favored China and keeping the diving powerhouse from any chance of a ...


Gay News

More than 140 LGBTQ athletes slated to be at Tokyo Olympics 2021-07-17
- At least 142 publicly out LGBTQ and non-binary athletes are headed to Tokyo for the Summer Olympic Games—more than double the number who participated at the 2016 Rio Games, according to Outsports. The number of publicly ...


Gay News

WOMEN'S SOCCER U.S. again beats Mexico 4-0 2021-07-06
- In East Hartford, Connecticut, the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) finished in its final match before departing for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics in style, defeating Mexico 4-0 on July 5 to wrap up the 2021 ...


Gay News

Women's soccer: U.S. defeats Mexico 4-0 2021-07-02
- On July 1, the United States women beat Mexico 4-0 in a friendly in East Hartford, Connecticut, according to ESPN.com. The match was the U.S. team's second-to-last tune up ahead of this summer's Olympics in Tokyo. ...


Gay News

WORLD: Domestic violence, activist dies, Jerusalem Pride, Olympics 2021-06-06
- On May 28, the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Foundation launched its #SeenAndBelieved campaign to shine a light on the prevalence of DFV (domestic and family violence) in LGBTQ communities, aiming to break down the barriers to victims ...


Gay News

WORLD School items, Olympics, Angola law, Dutch senate 2021-02-14
- Toronto's Catholic school board reinstated the link to an LGBT support phone line on its website following outrage from the community, according to Yahoo! News, citing The Canadian Press. The school board removed LGBT YouthLine from ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.