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I run the Gay Sports mailing list and have done for about five years. The list used to be insanely active (80 posts a month, which ain't bad for an obscure topic), but the times seem to have passed us by. Maybe homosexualism in le monde sportif isn't all that interesting anymore. Even to sportif homosexualists.
Nonetheless... Time for a roundup of recent homosexualist sports media sightings, where I define all relevant terms broadly, as is my wont.
The Internet: An instantaneous communications medium. The Gay Sports Media Roundup: Updated less often than the city phone book.
Picking up where we left off...
Four years ago, I embarked on a large project to document media coverage of the Paralympics. Here in the year 2000, I haven't lifted a finger to follow what happened to my dear crip friends in Sydney. I don’t understand it, either; I do have a corpus of articles on the topic.
I didn’t pay much attention to the Olympics, for that matter, largely due to working through them. However, I noted a lengthy feature article in the 3 October 2000 ish of mighty Sports Illustrated (not online: I looked everywhere) on the world’s favourite lesbian handball couple, Camilla Andersen of Denmark and Mia Hundvin of Norway.
To my great surprise, the macho fraternity stranglehold of SI managed to do justice to the topic without sensationalism or scorn. Except that sensationalism is evidently part of the story with Andersen and Hundvin, who are front-page news in Denmark. (Do any kind of net search for the phrase “Andersen and Hundvin.” Even if you can’t read a word of Danish or Norwegian, the resulting hits scream tabloid.)
Typical queer media analysts, accustomed to giving pats on the back to gay-hating media outlets for whatever crumbs they throw us, would note writer Gary Smith’s careful use of the word “spouse” to describe the two spouses. Also “married couple” to describe the married couple. I expect nothing less, even from a bigoted ancien régime bunker like SI.
And you know this is the only way the sport of handball could ever get any press in the United States. Hundvin/Andersen is a safe story: They’re foreigners. They’re girls. They’re from Scandinavia, where everyone is slightly kinky in the first place. And they play a sport we only need to pretend qualifies as such only every four years.
It’s a bit of a cliché – that nothing will happen to improve the lot of queers in elite sport until some honkin’ big American player in one of the Big Four sports (really, only the Big Three: Hockey is too marginal to count) finally and at long last comes out. Of course, that’s yesterday’s approach: Far more realistic is the prospect of a young kid’s making it to the Show never having been in. And ironically, if that’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen with a European boy on an NHL team. From where? How about... Sweden?
Andersen/Hundvin may be the closest we get in this lifetime. And on this side of the pond, we won’t hear about them again until 2004, if then. They may have retired, or broken up. And single gay Olympians are much easier to ignore. Ask David Pichler, the homosexualist Amerikanski diver. (It’s pronounced “Pickler,” furthering the tradition of fags with suggestive names: Pronger, Ferry.)
Oh, but we see a pattern emerging. From the Gary Smith piece:
[T]he Danish Olympic Committee noticed that mention of the women’s relationship had sneaked into Camilla’s bio file on the Olympics computer service. They demanded its removal, the Sydney Organizing Committee refused, but the IOC stepped in and censored the file: What if 15,000 journalists showed up for a first-round team handball match?
Gotta hide the truth from those pervs, the journos. Andersen and Hundvin need protection. Or something does, if not the couple.
Olympics, Olympics, Olympics. Sydney’s Games were’t quite as sexy as Atlanta’s, in part because that pesky U.S. relay team went and spoiled it by being arseholes. Running around shirtless and also being an arsehole gives the press a convenient pretext to ignore all the black muscle you’re showing off. Whereas in Atlanta, it was close-up Lycra basket all the way, and people were freaking out. Very quietly, of course.
Teen People (I will read anything) ran a cute half-issue on the Olympics: Take the September 2000 mag and flip it upside-down and backwards. It was another instance of the now-familiar format of beauty shots of boy and grrrl athletes. All things considered, the grrrls were depicted as formidable, solid, glowing, while the guys were mere sex kittens. (“Mere.” Sorry. Sometimes the cant of those hackneyed liberal feminists surges up from the prehistoric depths.)
In particular, the kinkiest practitioner of a savagely masochistic yet whitebread sport, gymnast d00d Blaine Wilson, gave us a good shot of his chest tattoo. We read, yet again, of his many other tattoos and his now-removed “eyebrow ring and tongue stud.” You can come up with your own multiple entendres. I’m not here to do everything for you.
(While Chainey Umphrey has the best physique of any male gymnast in the history of the world, being built like the black guy he is, Wilson is probably the hottest in bed. Then again, wasn’t that Kurt Thomas on a talk show nearly 20 years ago assuring the host that, despite being newly married, there was no-o-o-o problem?)
Saturday Night tried to be all piss-elegant and klassy in its own sex-U-up athlete portfolio. Daniel Igali eating cereal, shirtlessly. Everyone else fully clothed. (Well, Glenroy Gilbert was shirtless in the pool, but you couldn’t see anything.) Who would have thought that Curtis Myden had such a long neck? Elsewhere in the ish, a profile of Bruny Surin, in which he's never looked more uptight, gigantic tits or no. Maybe it's because he’s eight inches off the ground, leaping with his feet horizontal.
That photo spread actually makes the physiognomies of the various sports manifestly clear. Myden is lissome. Alison Sydor is sized for a bike (never mind the fact that bikes come in different sizes). Gilbert and Surin skew the analysis slightly, since in the post–Ben Johnson era it is understood that short-distance runners will be (a) black and (b) bodybuilders. The 1,500-meter kids are old-style beanpoles.
One did take note of the mention by Rosie DiManno, one of the triad of macho Toronto sportswritrixen (compadres: Mary Ormsby, Christie Blatchford), of Aussie sprinter Matt Shirvington, a white guy known as Lunchbox due to his prominent basket. (I checked. It really is.) Apparently the lad is a tad embarrassed by the nickname (as was Linford Christie with his, according to DiManno). While I can understand his reaction (truly: even physical attributes you’re proud of should not be sources of ridicule), if he’s that concerned he should wear the loose nylon shorts of the lonely long-distance runners instead of the black-bodybuilder spray-on bodysuits. He is rather asking for it.
Men’s Journal, a Men’s Fitness/Health wannabe, offered up, in its August 2000 emission, a set of NFL training photographs, including a loving closeup of the rather astonishingly low-fat Michael Westbrook (Redskins). Not content to leave well enough alone, the October issue features the remarkably unbeautiful Michael Johnson: Shirtless on the cover (someone’s been tucking like a drag queen) and with an anatomy-textbook tight shot of the veins on his legs inside. He’s still a jerk, and yes, I was the one who asked him if he threw the race against Bailey at the SkyDome lo those many years ago.