(This story was published in 2005).
As 2005 heads for the history books we thought you’d like one last look at the year’s top sports stories from a gay perspective, and ones that were just plain entertaining or strange. All items were written by Jim Allen, Jim Buzinski or Cyd Zeigler Jr.
In 1999, out lesbian tennis star Amelie Mauresmo was beaten by former No. 1 Martina Hingis at the Australian Open and afterwards Hingis said that Mauresmo was "half a man." She's all woman to us, but in any case, Hingis has been on the shelf since retiring due to injuries in 2002. She recently played a match in Thailand and when Amelie was asked about it at a press conference, Mauresmo was blunt: “I have nothing to say, absolutely nothing at all". That wasn't good enough for the questioner, who asked again, which prompted Mauresmo to say "Nothing" and walk out of the press conference. We're going to go out on a limb here and speculate that Amelie Mauresmo hasn't forgiven or forgotten Hingis' remark.
Homophobia in the Darts World
All six members of a British pub dart team have been banned from league play for life after they taunted a gay and lesbian team with homophobic insults. The teams are based in Brighton, England, and play in the Sussex United Darts League.
The ban came after the “straight” team from the Bevendean Hotel allegedly mocked and scorned the gay players from the Stag pub, according to British media reports. The Bevendean team refused to shake their opponents’ hands, eat their food (the game was at the Stag) and repeatedly made anti-gay remarks.
The best account came from the London Telegraph: Fran Bailey, the captain of the Stag's team, insisted that her team had endured "constant abuse all night", adding: "We heard them say, 'don't shake hands - you never know what you're going to catch'. If their darts fell on the floor, we heard them say, 'I wouldn't bend over to pick up your darts in this pub. I would rather buy a new pack.'
"It is courtesy to supply food when you are the host pub for a match but when we said we were going to bring it out they said, 'We don't want to eat in here because we don't know what we are going to catch.' They even booked their taxi well in advance and we heard them say that they would rather pay waiting charges to the taxi than stay another minute longer in the pub.
"We were intimidated in our own pub. Their behavior was disgusting and offensive." A female Stag player said her opponents taunted her in the toilet and asked her if the was "in the right loo".
A Bevendean representative denied the charges, saying, "I never heard any of my side make any anti-gay comments. The lads in the side are placid and certainly not homophobic. The only conclusion I can make is that it is just sour grapes."
But the league thought otherwise. Secretary Peter Crook said, "We cannot tolerate homophobic behavior of any kind." We’ll drink a pint to that!
Piazza to Wed Playmate
New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza, who publicly declared in 2002 he was a heterosexual, will reportedly marry ... a man in Canada. No, just kidding! Piazza will wed "Baywatch" actress and former Playmate Alicia Rickter in late January, the New York Post reported.
Piazza, the subject of a 2002 blind item in Post that he was gay, took the unusual step of holding a press conference at the time and stating, "The truth is that I'm heterosexual and date women." At the time, another Playmate that Piazza was dating, Darlene Bernaola, said, "Our sex life was very, very healthy."
Of course, this will put an end to those nasty rumors. It is interesting, though, that having very public relationships with Playmates is the way for jocks to prove they are straight. NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia, who also has denied rumors he is gay, made news when his girlfriend Carmella DeCesare, the 2004 Playboy Playmate of the Year, allegedly karate kicked another woman that Garcia had dated during a tussle at a Cleveland nightclub.
Sex and the Mascot
Ever want to have sex with a school mascot? Us, either. But apparently some people find the idea alluring, according to an entertaining report in the London Guardian.
"There's a whole sports mascot sort of groupie thing that goes on ... sports mascots get laid like crazy because people are so attracted to them,” Minnesota sexologist Ducky Doolittle (her real name) says. “Women are all over them."
"For some reason, girls think we're immature," Pete Nelson, aka T-Rac, the giant racoon mascot of the Tennessee Titans told the paper. "They think we're funny to begin with, but they get tired of us after a while." Gee, we wonder why.
We did find a gay angle in all of this, a story we happened to miss at the time. As the Guardian wrote: "In 2002 Goldy Gopher, mascot of the University of Minnesota's various sports teams, 'came out' as part of the college's attempt to show solidarity with its gay and lesbian students. Cue hoo-ha. In the face of mounting public pressure, Goldy was officially reclassified as being both genderless and asexual. But even this sordid compromise failed to satisfy the slavering homophobes.
So soon Goldy was seen in an ESPN TV sting chasing women in bikinis. And this was promptly followed by an interview in Playboy in which the formerly homosexual rodent drooled about opposing teams' (female) cheerleaders. There is, it seems, only one sort of sexuality allowed in mascot land. And that is male heterosexuality."
Once we get equal rights in the mascot world, then we all can rest easy.
Where to Stick It
We love this quote, from ESPN.com: “Just picture your favorite guy and put it right through the hole." – San Diego Chargers quarterback Drew Brees after winning the skills competition at the NFL Pro Bowl.
Transgender Golfer Makes Tour Debut
Mianne Bagger is blazing a trail in the women's golf game that hopefully will become unremarked upon over time. She was born a male in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1966 and started playing golf at the age of 8. At the age of 26, she withdrew from competitive golf to undergo gender reassignment surgery, starting to play again in 1998. Bagger now lives in Australia and this week made her debut on the Ladies European Tour (which, naturally, was being played in Australia). It's believed to be the first time a known transgender person has played a women's professional golf tournament. There's been the expected whispers that Mianne did this so that she can have an advantage over women golfers but she reacted to this by saying "That always infuriated me so much, to say 'What's to stop some guy from having a sex-change operation to play the women's tour'? It really exhibits the level of ignorance that exists." Of course, what will ultimately matter is whether Mianne Bagger can play golf at a level that will permit her to make the cut with regularity.
Urine Prank Gets Suspension
From the “Some Things You Just Can’t Make Up File:” A dozen swimmers from a high school in Michigan were suspended from the team for the rest of the season for pulling a prank on their coach, Channel 6 in Warren reports. The swimmers from Warren Mott High School drove to their coaches' house Sunday from a Super Bowl party and placed a bottle of Gatorade filled with urine on her front porch.
The prank was a tradition where the team member who worked the hardest during the previous meet is presented with a bottle of Gatorade as the "Thirst-Quencher Award," according to the report.
The bottle was left with an "unmistakable" note so the coach would know who left the bottle, said parent David Czapp.
The students say they were sorry, but the story never says if the coach imbibed.
One of the strangest sports stories we've seen has been playing out in Zimbabwe. Samukaliso Sithole--no, we didn't forget to type in another "h" in the last name--won some track events at a meet in Botswana last year. However, prosecutors have filed charges in Zimbabwe that Sithole misled a woman as to his gender. The woman believed that Sithole was a woman but he was outed as a man by a third party. Upon his outing, Sithole tried to flee, but the police caught him and a medical exam was undertaken. Sithole's explanation? He was born congenitally deformed, he claims, and although he went to a tribal healer who proclaimed him a female, the ritual wasn't completed because Sithole couldn't make full payments to the healer.
The The Zimbabwe Athletics Association has said that Samukaliso Sithole could be stripped of all medals and prize money. This wouldn't be the first time that a man competing as a woman was found out. Stella Walsh won the 1932 Olympic women's 100 metres, but upon the death of Walsh in 1980, it was discovered that she was really a man. It is not unknown in the medical field that a newborn's gender is unclear and a decision has to be made on which gender the child will be raised as. This might be one of those cases but we suspect that Samukaliso Sithole will end up being the Zimbabwean Stella Walsh.
Yogi Berra is 79 and one would think he’d be flattered to be mentioned in the same sentence as “sex.” But no. The New York Yankees legend has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Turner Broadcasting Systems for using his name in an ad for “Sex and the City” he calls hurtful.” The suit said the ad "created a false image of [Berra] that is both contrary to his personality, lifestyle and character as well as abhorrent to him personally."
The ad depicts the show’s sex kitten Samantha and the words: "Yogasm: a) a type of yo-yo trick b) sex with Yogi Berra c) what Samantha has with a guy from yoga class."
Gay OK With NFL
“GAY” is now OK at the NFL Shop.
The league reversed itself and will now allow personalized jerseys to have “GAY” on the back. This decision came one day after Outsports printed an article about the policy (see below). Previously, a person trying to buy such a jersey had it rejected with the words: "This field should not contain a naughty word." (this wording was changed in response to our story to "The personalization entered cannot be accepted.").
Dan Masonson, a league spokesman, told Outsports that “there was no message there” to having “gay” on a list of 1,159 banned words. After being made aware of the issue, the NFL Shop will now allow “gay” jerseys, said Masonson. “It should have not been in the [naughty words] filter,” he said.
The words you can’t put on an NFL jersey. The single most-view story in Outsports’ history.
Gay Goalie Honored
Openly gay Dartmouth lacrosse goalie Andrew Goldstein has been named College Sports Television Student-Athlete of the Week for his stellar effort in goal against Maryland last Tuesday, leading his team to victory, 7-6. Last fall, Goldstein wrote a first-person column for Outsports about being openly gay and just one of the guys on his team.
It was the first time that Dartmouth (3-1) beat #4 Maryland in eight tries. In the schools' previous meetings, Maryland had won by an average of 10 points. Goldstein had a phenomenal .684 save percentage in the game and stopped two shots on goal in the final 45 seconds to seal the victory.
The preseason All-America is recognized as one of the best goalies in the nation. He's a senior majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and was named second-team All-Ivy last season. You can track some of his games live on Collegesports.com
No Queer Eye for This Red Sox Guy
Boston Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin said he would not have participated in a "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" makeover that some of his teammates did in spring training.
"I don't believe in how some people live,'' Timlin told the Hartford Courant. "`When it comes time and you're standing in front of God, you have to face judgment for what you do. Now if you're doing something wrong, it is my responsibility as a Christian and a human being to try to guide you away from doing something wrong. All I can do is try to guide you. I can't lead you.''
If by "doing something wrong," Timlin meant someone wearing wearing a check shirt with striped pants, we agreed they should incur the wrath of the Almighty. But we suspect Timlin is just another homophobe who masks his prejudice with his religion. (In the same article, teammate Trot Nixon stressed he wasn't criticizing his teammates for receiving makeovers. It just wasn't something he would be interested in because of his Christian beliefs.)
Coach Licks Players – Literally
An Oregon high school football coach has a new remedy for open wounds: have your coach lick them. While this may be the fantasy of some, it was the horror of the parents of one player whose cut knee was licked by the boy's coach.
Central Linn High coach Scott Reed has admitted to the incident. According to the Associated Press, police investigated but Reed was not arrested - no law exists in Oregon against licking someone's open wounds. Reed maintains it was consensual - no reports have disputed that fact.
Reed has been put on probation by the school and ordered to take a "bloodborne pathogens" course.
Legal or not, it's pretty wild behavior. We can only imagine what signs will be held high by the fans of opposing teams next football season: "Neverland Ranch" comes to mind.
That is, if any parents let their kids play for this guy again. Though he hasn't had any facial surgery, this is as bizarre as anything Michael Jackson has ever done (naming his baby "blanket" excluded).
Bonds: My Testicles Haven't Shrunk
We can't really think of anything snarky to say about these two Barry Bonds comments regarding his alleged steroid use, so we'll just cut and paste 'em and look on in amazement at what a detour in to farce the major league baseball steroids scandal has taken (Note: steroids are supposed to cause a head to grow and testicles to shrink):
"What's all this about my head size? My hat size is the same today as when I started. My head hasn't grown. I've always been a 7 1/4 to a 7 3/8 my whole career. You can go check".
"I can tell you my testicles are the same size. They haven't shrunk. They're the same and work just the same as they always have."
Sperm Donation on the LPGA
One of the stereotypes that drives women athletes nuts, no matter their orientation, is that all female jocks are lesbians. Not true, of course, as this heartwarming story of family values on the women’s pro golf tour demonstrates. A former male caddie for Jackie Gallagher-Smith filed a lawsuit claiming that she had seduced him, with the sole motivation of getting pregnant. It seems that the married Gallagher-Smith claimed that she was having trouble conceiving with her husband and that the former caddie, Gary Robinson, was drafted to help the process along. So, if someone claims that "all women golfers are lesbians", remind them of this story.
Out Aussie Gymnast
Trampoline is not a high-profile sport, but we applaud any jock that has the guts to come out. We received this from a reader in Australia:
On Australian TV this week they ran a brief article on the official coming out of 28 year old World Champion gymnast Ji Wallace. Ji said being gay was a condition that sat naturally with him and he was very happy to tell the world about it. Ji said that being honest can make you attractive - and he's particularly hoping to attract a friendly sponsor so he can suitably prepare for the 2006 Olympics in Bejing.
Ji has been competing for Australia since he was 15 (1992) and won the silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics in the discipline of Trampoline. In 1996 he was World Champion in Double Mini Tramp (DMT). He has consistently figured among the best athletes in his field in the world.
Man of Hate
Ex-Seattle Seahawks linebacker Ken Hutcherson is an influential evangelical minister in Seattle and stopping same-sex marriage and gay rights is his primary agenda. He calls same-sex marriage "the greatest danger to America." In 2004, he held a "Mayday for Marriage" rally that drew 20,000 in Seattle. Months later, he led a similar rally in Washington, D.C., that drew 100,000.
In April, Hutcherson met privately with a Microsoft official and threatened a boycott of its products if it did not rescind its support for a gay rights measure before the Washington Senate. Coincidence or not, Microsoft, which had supported the measure, decided to stay neutral and the bill lost by 1 vote. "If I got God on my side, what's a Microsoft? What's a Microsoft? It's nothing," Hutcherson told the New York Times. "I kick 'em out," he said if he discovers a parishioner is gay. "I do it three or four times a year. You bring up their names during the church service, and if they won't repent, won't turn away from sin, you have to kick 'em out."
Locker Room Surprise
The last time we saw French tennis player Michael Llorda it was on TV at the Australian Open, where he was changing between sets(pictured right), revealing a lean, tight body and leaving little to the imagination. So this following story is probably not a surprise: Two weeks ago, at the Nasdaq-100 in Miami, Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic opened his locker and found a naked Llorda awaiting him. Thanks to the BBC, which provided this blow-by-blow description:
Ljubicic: "I saw the door slightly open, so I went to open it and then, shock, complete shock--there was Michael Llodra, naked in my locker!
"He was looking at me, I was looking at him. I said, 'What the hell are you doing here?'
"He said: 'I'm trying to focus for my match.'
"I said: 'It's 10 to 10--you're playing at 10 o'clock!'
"He replied: 'I'm trying to get positive energy from you. You're winning a lot of matches this year'."
Ljubicic went on to win his match that day, and he obviously gave Llorda enough energy that he won his doubles match.
Llorda stands 6'3" and Ljubicic was impressed that he fit in the locker. "The locker, it's not a big locker, it's a small locker. It's not easy to get in that locker, I'm telling you," said Ljubicic.
"He is not a small guy but very flexible. Very, very flexible."
How come this never happens to us when we hit the lockers?
A.I. Wants to Make Out With His Coach
Oft-maligned 76er Allen Iverson finally got the head coach he wanted: former Sixer star and assistant coach Maurice Cheeks. In fact, "The Answer" was so happy with the selection of Cheeks that he wanted to get a little jiggy with him.
"Bringing in Mo was icing on the cake," Iverson said at a press conference Tuesday. "I didn't want to do it in front of all the cameras, but I wanted to take him in the back and kiss him on the mouth."
An odd comment from Iverson, who is still remembered for making some nasty comments about gay people on an album that was never released a couple years ago. I guess that "City of Brotherly Love" thing is getting to him.
High School Gay Football Play Draws Fire
It's amazing what a little one-act play can stir up in high school. Sabrina Audrey Jess, a high school student in Ashburn, Va., has had quite a couple of months since her plays, "Offsides," about a high school football player who comes out of the closet, was produced at Stone Bridge High in February.
"I had a lot of senior friends last year who went through a really hard time," Jess told the Washington Post. "Some of them didn't tell anybody because of how scared they were. There were some who told people, and their parents said they were going to get kicked out of their house, or they had to go to counseling, and if they didn't go to counseling they would be forced to leave the house -- it was just a lot of stuff. And it didn't make sense to me."
So Jess wrote the play. According to the Washington Post, after it was performed, parents approached the county school board about keeping the play from being performed again and began to distribute leaflets in protest of the play.
"I try to promote tolerance in a school where there is not enough among teenagers and am in turn flooded with the intolerance of their parents," Jess told the Post. "People who are negatively commenting on my play are proving my point."
While many parents in Ashburn are freaking out, Jess is becoming quite the little celebrity. According to the Post, she has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG for her work.
It's just amazing how strong kids are today. Some people may look at that as a bad thing - that they are unnecessarily defiant. Sometimes, maybe that's true. But, that defiance also has really positive outcomes - like this one. With any luck, more towns like Ashburn will start putting on more plays like "Offsides," and more high school quarterbacks, point guards and goalies will feel just a little more comfortable with their feelings about other men.
Johnny Damon Gay-Positive
In next week's Newsweek, Red Sox slugger Johnny Damon has a positive perspective on a gay teammate: "If someone came out on the baseball field, I don't think it would be a big deal...If I had a gay teammate, I'm sure we'd keep slapping each other on the butt."
If only more athletes had the self-confidence Damon obviously has, we could probably find a few hundred thousand volunteers.
Beck's Beauty Tips:
Soccer star and Posh-Spice-hubby David Beckham has revealed his deepest, darkets beauty tips after People magazine named him the world's most beautiful sports icon.
"I've learned a lot. Being out in the cold and rain doesn't help your skin, so moisturiser in the morning is a big thing. And at night it's the eye cream. A manicure is probably my favourite pampering splurge."
Beckham also told the mag that his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, is a big fan of his firm butt, but that his feet leave much to be desired. Time for a pedicure, I guess.
ESPN’s Does Gay Story
ESPN on its Sunday SportsCenter ran an eight-minute segment on Andrew Goldstein, the All-American Dartmouth lacrosse goalie who came out to his team after the 2003 season.
Reported by Greg Garber, the segment was moving as it told of Goldstein’s journey of acceptance of himself and of his teammates’ acceptance of him. While I could have done with less of the syrupy soft piano music, the piece was effective in conveying what gay athletes face.
The coolest part was footage of Goldstein scoring a goal against Syracuse in the 2003 NCAA playoffs, the first by a goalie in tournament play in 30 years. His teammates remarked that the feat marked Goldstein as a different kind of player, something they soon discovered was more true than they had ever realized. Hats off to ESPN for airing the segment but especially to Goldstein for sharing his story. He proved that a jock can come out in a team sport in a positive fashion.
When You Gotta Go
Relief pitchers for the Seattle Mariners were chagrined to discover that the bullpen at San Diego’s Petco Park does not have a bathroom. This forced Matt Thornton on Friday to climb a fence and use a public restroom, the Seattle Times reported. Thornton was forced to wait in line with the fans, which set up at least one interesting encounter.
"I met a guy named Stan, who invented a baseball cap with a handle so you can take it off fast to catch foul balls," Thornton said. "He said he tested it at a batting cage on pitches at 75 mph and caught five before the seams started to give out."
We’re not sure if the Padres deliberately omitted a restroom in the bullpen so as to possibly have an opposing pitcher trapped in the public bathroom during a crucial stretch of the game. Gives a new meaning to “reliever.”
The German city of Dortmund is installing a series of wooden "sex garages" in time for next year's soccer World Cup to meet an expected demand in prostitution, Reuters reports. "The World Cup has put us under added time pressure, as we don't want a situation where prostitutes and their clients disturb residential areas," an official said. Germany allows prostitution in certain areas.
Reuters says an estimated 40,000 hookers are expected to descend on Germany for next summer's World Cup. Dortmund plans to arrange the Dutch-designed wooden huts in an area with condom machines and snack bar.
"Men have to get used to them of course, but a high percentage accept them because they can protect their anonymity," the official said. "That said, there will always be those who want to go behind a bush, under a bridge or into the woods."
I always love the rather practical approach most of Europe takes to things like this. I especially like the snack bar idea; it reminds me of the "Seinfeld" episode where George took food to bed with his girlfriend during sex and Jerry dubbed him the "Fornicating Gourmet."
Homophobic Coach Out
We admit to a bit of schaudenfreud upon hearing that the University of Florida decided not to renew the contract of women’s softball coach Karen Johns. It was Johns who kicked senior Andrea Zimbardi off the team in 2003 after learning she was a lesbian. Zimbardi had alleged that Johns created an atmosphere of alienation for anyone not sharing her Christian beliefs, outed other coaches and players as lesbians, and reneged on an agreement not to retaliate against Zimbardi when she took her concerns to the university’s athletic administration.
Zimbardi fought her dismissal and the result was that the University of Florida agreed to provide diversity training dealing with homophobia to all its coaches, athletic directors and staff. It was too late to save Zimbardi’s career, but not too late to help set a precedent.
Johns was fired after her Gators were eliminated from the NCAA tournament in May. Her teams went 192-131 overall but were only 3-10 in the Southeast Conference tournament and won only three NCAA tourney games. She also had a lot of turnover on her staff. Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said, “It became evident that this program was not achieving the success that we envisioned.”
We suspect that the Zimbardi incident also played a role. The university received a lot of negative press about Johns’ behavior and I wonder whether it affected recruiting. I’m not naïve to think that Johns would have been fired if she had more on-field success, but by making the atmosphere of homophobia public, Zimbardi cast an unwelcome light on the high-profile university where image is important.
Diversity Training Video Backfires
In trying to teach incoming players how to handle the media and be sensitive to diversity, people in the San Francisco 49ers front office created a “training video” that featured an overtly stereotypical Chinese man, two lesbians stripping and making out before getting married, and the “alleged” mayor of San Francisco (played by now-former Niners PR man Kirk Reynolds) accepting bribes, swearing at constituents and getting naked with three hot, topless women. Reynolds was fired and the 49ers apologized.
‘I Don’t Believe in Being Gay’
Chicago White Sox player Carl Everett doesn’t believe in dinosaurs (they’re not in the Bible) and he doesn’t believe in gays.
"Gays being gay is wrong. Two women can't produce a baby, two men can't produce a baby, so it's not how it's supposed to be. . . . I don't believe in gay marriages. I don't believe in being gay," Everett told Maxim magazine, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Everett made these comments despite telling the Tribune that he had gay teammates whom he accepted. Evertt also told Maxim that “It's proven that 99 percent of baseball fans have no idea what they're watching;" and that “If everybody in the world got on steroids, we'll still lose more kids to a war than we will from steroids."
My first instinct is to rip Everett but that is modified if in fact he had gay teammates and was accepting. Make no mistake: What he said was offensive and unacceptable. Words can be powerful but actions often speak louder. I would like to know more about this before totally condemning him. His ravings about gays and marriage and babies seem more formed from religious ignorance than hatred. He has a reputation for being, as someone said, 51 cards shy of a full deck.
Queer Eye for the Red Sox Guy
In another sign that we have turned some sort of cultural corner, Tuesday’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” had its season premier with its much-ballyhooed makeover of Boston Red Sox players Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar, Tim Wakefield, and Doug Mirabelli. For an hour viewers heard the word “gay” said comfortably in the context of sports, along with paraffin waxing, manicures, pumpkin facials and micro-dermabrasion.
The segment began with an intro by sportscaster Bob Costas, another sign “Queer Eye” is firmly accepted in the mainstream. The Red Sox players, shown almost all the time in the presence of their wives, had no problem primping and preening as they got their makeovers. “Who said gay was bad?” Millar asked, clad in a fluffy cotton robe and soaking his feet in water mixed with rose petals. “I am now gay.” After Varitek arrived by helicopter for his treatment, one “Queer Eye” member quipped, “You flew all the way in a helicopter to get your back waxed—that is gay.”
Along with the makeover (which took up much less of the show than most episodes) was a feel-good story about helping a Florida Little League rebuild its stadium that was badly damaged in last year’s hurricanes. This part was cloying (of course) and allowed an easy way for the gays and jocks to come together.
In a terrific column about the episode and gays and sports in general, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Gwen Knapp quotes Damon saying, "If there's a gay guy in baseball, we have to help him out. I'd smack him on the butt, just like I do everybody else.'' It will be attitudes like Damon’s (a star whose jock credentials can’t be questioned) that will go a long way with helping gays being accepted in sports; that and a pumpkin facial.
Active Pro Athlete Comes Out
Well, no, not really; we’d all be dead because the Earth would have already spun off its axis if someone did, obviously. However, Cyd briefly mentioning Queer as Folk below reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to write about.
I love Queer as Folk (QaF hereafter). I fully admit it: the US version, for long stretches of its five year run, has sucked more than any television show has a right to suck. Awful writing, hideous directors, bad acting, an almost total lack of queer people of color as anything other than sex objects, Toronto doubling as Pittsburgh, the works. However, something happened at the end of season four: the show became consistently alright. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but around the same time, the show introduced a closeted football player named Drew Boyd, played by Matt Battaglia. Drew plays quarterback for a fictional team that I think is an Arena League team (definitely not the Steelers). Drew hooked up with series regular Emmett Honeycutt (the wonderful Peter Paige) for anonymous sex, but ran off when Emmett pushed him to come out publicly after finding out who he was.
Now, when QaF has tried to be "relevant" and "topical" and "controversial" in the past, that’s where a lot of the suckage has come in; the writers have the subtlety of a train wreck usually. Lo and behold, however, they’ve handled the Drew Boyd coming out story pretty well. Earlier this season, Drew reappeared and told Emmett that he was being blackmailed about being gay but wanted to be with him, he was tired of the closet. A few episodes ago, Drew came out to the public and it actually showed what I suspect will actually happen when an active pro athlete finally does the same in about 2819: the media frenzy, the "Ohmygawd, that guy I cheer is a fag?!?!" from redneck fans, the clueless-about-sports gay boys going nuts over something they really don’t understand, the angst of the athlete about endorsements, his new role in society and his safety.
In the bad old days of QaF, Drew would have come roaring out of the closet sounding like a fully formed gay activist, spouting the latest queer talking points; but they show his doubts, his fears, his apprehension about his place in the gay community and best of all, don’t chide the character for that. While I’m utterly cynical about the possibility of an active team sport pro athlete coming out without being arrested in Fire Island Pines and having it splashed all over the tabloids, QaF, in its own gawky way, shows a bit of the human side of that potential story. Queer as Folk is ending after this season and I hope that in the Final Episode Ever Emmett and Drew end up together, madly in love. Now if they could only make the few football scenes they’ve shown more realistic. --Jim Allen
Martina Settles With Sponsor
Martina Navratilova has settled her lawsuit against Rainbow Card, the gay-targeted credit card for which Navratilova was a spokesperson from 1995 to 2004.
The lesbian champion tennis player had withdrawn her support for Rainbow Card when the company began associating with gay-themed TV shows "The L Word" and "Queer As Folk," which Navratilova has allegedly called "depraved."
It had always seemed like a strange tiff. My vision had been Martina jumping up and down, stomping her feet and screaming about a relationship that had apparently brought her a paycheck for 10 waning years of her career. For both parties, I'm glad it's over and that they can move on. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
Hewitt Calls Ref a "Poof"
The world's No. 2 tennis player, Lleyton Hewitt, had some apologizing to do on Tuesday after calling an official a "poof" during a Davis Cup match against Argentina's Guillermo Coria. Calling someone a "poof" is like calling someone a "fag."
"Numerous times he said, 'Allez, come on', the whole day as well. He grabbed his private parts at one stage, three times in a row, and I'm about to serve and I asked him if he had an issue - or if he could find it [his penis]," Coria told the Associated Press following the match.
Hewitt at first denied making the "poof" comment, but videotape has shown otherwise. On Tuesday, Hewitt apologized for his comments.
"I regret having said what I said in the heat of the match," Hewitt said. "I apologize for any offense I may have caused to any individual or groups."
In other words: "My manager says I should just apologize, so here's the weakest apology I can make."
To me, this comment doesn't sting as much as those of so many others. A big part of that is probably because the word "poof" just doesn't mean what it does to so many overseas. Still, I think it's good that the International Tennis Federation has fined Hewitt for his off-color remarks to the official. Hopefully he actually learned a lesson from this, other than that it's a smart thing to apologize, whether you mean it or not. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
Gay Ruggers on TV
The documentary “Go Dragons,” airing on the new gay cable channel Logo, is an entertaining look at the Chicago Dragons gay rugby team and their quest to win their first game. The documentary examines how the team was formed and the motivations for the various players. The team, which competes in a mainstream league, is very green and raw, with only a handful of guys who have played before. Nevertheless, they give it the old college try and win a measure of self-respect.
The best segments involve the team playing in rural Illinois against teams who have “redneck” written all over them. Yet, we hear several expressions of tolerance and acceptance from the opposing players, who seem to care less that their opponents are gay. This is evidenced by a post-game party featuring lots of beer and some nudity (following a rugby tradition of some sort).
The Dragons comes across as a mostly likeable bunch, though there is a jarring meanness as some of the players diss the looks of players from the Atlanta Bucks, a gay club that has invited the Dragons down to Hotlanta for a match. One Atlanta player is especially singled out for ridicule and one hopes he never sees the documentary; this left a bad taste in my mouth.
There is also an off-putting scene where the Dragons express shock at losing to the Bucks. They can accept being whipped by straight guys but losing to another bunch of gay guys seems to really bug them. During the team’s halftime speech, two Dragons refer to the Bucks as “pussies.” It had me rooting for the Bucks.
It’s a shame that some of the Dragons buy into the myth that gay jocks are somehow less than and use the same language to belittle their opponents that straight guys have used forever. I would have thought a gay team was beyond that. The Dragons were unsuccessful on the field not because they are gay but because they aren’t yet very good; I would assume success will come as the team matu
Ozzie Guillen on Gays
Ozzie Guillen, the Chicago White Sox manager known for shooting from the hip, had just finished an interview at Yankee Stadium with a pack of reporters, when he saw a longtime friend and called out: "Hey, everybody, this guy's a homosexual! He's a child molester!"
Reporters said the man seemed to not take offense, and that both men hugged. Two days later, Guillen explained himself to Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune: "I have no problem with [homosexuals]. I don't deal with that. To me, everybody's the same. We're human beings created by God. Everybody has their own opinion and their own right to do what they want to do. You have the right to feel the way you want to feel. Nobody can take that away from you."
In addition, according to Dave Buscema, a columnist with the Times-Herald Record in New York, Guillen had "just about an hour before, around a group of female Japanese reporters ... called outfielder Tadahito Iguchi 'queer,' jokingly saying he should want to go out with one of them."
We would like to think Guillen meant no offense and he did said he needs to be careful with his words. But equating gay people to child molesters is one of the biggest slurs homophobes have faced and Guillen is at least guilty of gross insensitivity. And his comment about Iguchi being "queer" is also offensive and adds to the sense that Guillen thinks making fun of gay people is humorous and acceptable.
How ironic that just minutes before he made his child molester comments, Guillen expressed offense at remarks by a San Francisco radio host who insulted the intelligence of Latin players. Guillen, who is from Venezuela, said about the anti-Latin remarks: "It's ignorant. It's just ignorant. You have someone dealing with the media, dealing with people, to say something like that, that's ignorant, man."
Gay Day Protest
The festive atmosphere of Gay Community Night at the Philadelphia Phillies was interrupted when two men unfurled -- with permission of the team -- a banner covering a row of eight seats in the high right-field stands that read, “Homosexuality is Sin. Christ Can Set You Free.”
Sparks Owner on Firing a Lesbian
The Los Angeles Sparks are embroiled in a controversy about the release of a lesbian player, and Sparks owner Johnny Buss is talking about it.
Latasha Byears was an important part of the Sparks' championship runs, playing a powerful power forward. In 2003, she was accused of sexual assault and was quickly released byt the team; she hasn't been picked up by anyone else since. It was around that same time that the Lakers' Kobe Bryant was accused of the same thing: sexually assaulting a woman. Not only was he not released, but he was vocally supported by his team. The Lakers are owned by Johnny Buss' brother, Jerry.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Buss said that gay issues are a topic of discussion at the team and league levels, and that he knows there are gay players in the League.
"We've discussed homosexuality in the NBA and WNBA," Buss told the L.A. Times. "We don't ask. If you look at the general population, you could come up with statistics on who is homosexual and who is not. I don't know why that would be any different in professional sports. Now it's one of those things that people won't come out and disclose. I think they should. I know there's a lot of prejudice in America and it's sickening to me."
He said that Byears' being lesbian didn't influence the decision to fire her. "What I have learned over all the years, you're just better off being blind to certain lifestyles," he said.
It certainly seems strange that the Lakers would vocally support Bryant at the same time the Sparks cut Byears, when both were accused of the same thing. It's no secret that gays and lesbians are treated differently by society, and by sports. I just wish the powers that be, like Johnny Buss, would either start treating us the same way; or at least have some balls and come clean about it. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
David Carr Is Cute:
Houston Texans quarterback David Carr came to training camp with a new haircut, after letting his locks grow long last season. See before and after photos. Guard Zach Wiegert told Carr he looked like a "European supermodel," according to the Houston Chronicle.
Center Steve McKinney seemed to upset his quarterback when he called him cute. “I said he looked cute," McKinney said. "He didn't like that comment, so I said, 'Let me rephrase it: You look handsome.' " Carr also didn’t like that, and told the Chronicle: "I told him I'd slap him if he said that again." Oooh, how butch! McKinney wouldn’t give it up, saying: "He's just real sensitive about the way he looks. If somebody told me I was cute, I'd take it as a compliment."
Carr, who goes out of his way to praise the Lord and mention his wife in almost every interview I’ve seen of him, fingered the latter for his new look. "My wife (Melody) wanted me to cut it," said Carr. "It's kind of what I've had my whole life, so I'm used to it. I feel like I've lost 10 pounds."
Thai Boxer Sentenced for Porn
Sirimongkol Singwancha, a leading Thai boxer, has been fined and sentenced to jail for allowing pornographic pictures of himself to appear in the gay-targeted Thai magazine Heat. (Picture here.) Sirimongkol was reportedly fined the equivalent of about $4,800; according to Gay.com, the fine was reduced to about $100, and his jail sentence of six months has been suspended for at least two years, because he has cooperated with authorities.
According to Queer Day, Sirimongkol said the pictures were originally taken "for fun and for them to view in privacy. I regret (it) and I'd like to apologize to everyone. I'm very stressed now and sometimes losing sleep. I hope that I would be forgiven for what I had done."
The photos appeared in the magazine two years ago. But, the magazine issue was just discovered by police when they raided a newsstand in Northern Bangkok. The photos were full-frontal images with several featuring his erect penis. Apparently, this is all a part of Thailand's crackdown on the porn industry. The pics are now making their way around the Internet - shocker.
Why can't some of the top athletes in the U.S. decide to take some nude pictures and accidentally leak them to gay magazines? I mean, surely Andy Roddick or some fourth-string NFL receiver could use some extra cash. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
Private Parts “Fried in Butter”
This qualifies as the most bizarre sports story of the year. The Australia Wallabies rugby team, as part of a male bonding exercise on a trip to South Africa, graphically detailed which of their teammates they would most like to eat.
For example, Stephen Larkham wanted Drew Mitchell's testicles for dessert, while Chris Whitaker preferred Rocky Elsom's private parts "fried in butter, garlic, chilli and parsley." The story came out after the players left questionnaires with their eating preferences in a restaurant, which then gave it to the Cape Times. Team management gave the players the question: "The Alive Scenario - Who to Cook?" during a gathering at a local Cape Town bar, asking them who should be "sacrificed in the name of culinary delights." The players were instructed: "You must nominate a player for each dish and how you would prepare them. Ways to present them include on a spit, marinated, skewered, boiled, in dumplings, etc. Be creative, but it is your view only. No comparing notes."
It was based on the true story of the 1972 rugby team in Uruguay whose plane crashed in the Andes, forcing survivors to resort to cannibalism.
Wallaby Matt Dunning, who looks like he could feed the entire team with his 253 pounds, was especially popular. Lote Tuqiri reportedly wanted to prepare him for starters in a sweet and sour sauce, while George Gregan said Dunning would be part of his main dish of "sweet pork, slowly roasted,” the Sydney Morning Herald said. Tuqiri was also fond of Morgan Turinui for dessert, explaining: "The amount of sweets he puts in, it's got to rub off in his meat somewhere." This prompted Rugby Heaven to call the dish “Morgan Tiramisu.”
If I were playing the Wallabies, I would get really nervous and start running if I heard them bragging that they eat their opponents for lunch. This also would allow ESPN to branch out with its new "Competitive Eating" show. First up, the Oakland Raiders slow-roast Warren Sapp.--Jim Buzinski
American pro sports have lagged behind the rest of the world in showing us some skin. While rugby players across Europe are taking off their clothes in calendars, American pro athletes seem reticent to even show us a pec or two. Maybe the NHL, in its desperation and with its Canadian and European influences, is loosening the drawstrings.
Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins' latest draftee right out of high school, certainly caught my eye with his half-shirtless photo in October's Vanity Fair. Let's hope we'll be seeing more of Crosby in the coming months. Apparently, according to Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson, the NHL has been contacting magazines about using Crosby in photo spreads. I for one am glad Vanity Fair took them up on their offer. Even if more don't, here's hoping Crosby's Web site starts filling up that "photos" section soon.
The Ottawa Citizen had an interesting take on the photo and the NHL's initiative around Crosby: "Crosby's beefcake shot is one more sign that the NHL is trying to expand its appeal in the U.S., and among Generation Y fans -- those between the ages of about 16 and 25, said Frank Pons, an assistant professor of sports marketing and consumer behaviour at the University of San Diego who studied hockey marketing as an MBA and PhD student in Quebec City and Montreal."
What's interesting about it to me is that it doesn't say they're trying to attract women with the beefcake shot, but "Generation Y" - that age group that is less and less heterocentric and more and more sexually aware. It's that generation of young men who will look at a picture of a hot guy and actually say, "wow, that guy's hot." That the NHL is obviously acknowledging this is promising. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
Not-So-Pretty in Pink
"The pink locker room" sounds like a book about gay athletes. That's exactly what the University of Iowa athletic department was probably thinking when they painted the visitors' locker room at Kinnick Stadium pink. Now, a professor is giving the pink locker room the red light.
Erin Buzuvis has said that the pink color scheme in the visitors' locker room promotes sexism and homophobia, and she is planning to challenge whether the color scheme violates NCAA policy. The pink locker room goes back to the days of former Iowa coach Hayden Fry and has been expanded in the current renovation of the stadium. Everything is now pink, including the carpeting, metal lockers, brick walls, sinks, shower floor and the urinals.
Now Buzuvis is claiming that she is getting death and rape threats because she dares question the legitimacy of painting a visitor's locker room pink. I'm not remotely surprised.
Instead of painting the visitor's locker room the same color as the Iowa team's locker room, I say paint the Iowa locker room pink. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
Get your mind out of the gutter, this isn’t about African-American men’s penises. For marketing reasons, the New Zealand national badminton team—yes, badminton is another sport that’s huge outside of U.S. borders—decided to call themselves the Black Cocks (the shuttlecock is the thing they wack over the net and the great New Zealand rugby team is the All Blacks) and it worked, sort of. They got sponsorship from condom companies and so forth, but this week, the national governing body conceded that the nickname was just too gimmicky, with too much potential for problems in less sarcastic countries that they dropped the nickname. With that decision goes a headline writers dream name; for example, the article I saw this item in was entitled "New Zealand finds Black Cocks hard to swallow". --Jim Allen
Shaq Chases Down Gay-Bashers:
Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal helped the police arrest a man suspected of assaulting a gay couple over the weekend.
Shaq was driving around South Beach at 3 a.m. on Saturday when he noticed a man, Michael Gonzalez, 18, yell anti-gay slurs at the couple from a car. Gonzalez then got out of the car and threw a bottle at the two men, hitting one of them. Gonzalez then got back into the car. As it sped off, O'Neal trailed behind, flagging down a police officer who arrested the man.
O'Neal has long talked about how he intends to become a police officer after his basketball-playing days are over. In fact, he is in the process of joining the Miami Beach police.
"For this incident I don't want to be credited as an individual who does police work," O'Neal said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. "I want to be credited as a Miami Beach police officer."
I can only imagine that the alleged attacker had a second thought about when he'd done when he noticed he was being trailed by a 7-foot-1 brick house. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
McGill University in Montreal is one of the most respected institutions of higher learning in North America. Sadly, the university is now in the midst of a shameful scandal that is repeated in other places far too often. On Tuesday, the school cancelled the football team’s season after a hazing incident that involves one of the favorite tricks in that pathetic ritual: sodomy or at least the threat of it. An 18-year old freshman lodged a complaint about scumbags who were supposed to be his teammates sexually assaulting him, using threats and intimidation via use of a broomstick and "the use of demeaning, stereotyped epithets" on Rookie Night in August. Hmmmm….let’s take a wild guess what those might be.
This case reminds me of one from 2003 that involved Mepham High School on Long Island where three players were raped – there’s no other word for it – during a hazing at training camp in Pennsylvania. The story from McGill indicates that no sodomy took place, only the threat of it; the Mepham incident, however, was utterly vile, as there was sodomy involving broomsticks, pinecones and golf balls coated in Ben Gay. I hate rituals or situations that involve humilation of indivuals in a mob setting and as long as I draw a breath I’ll never, ever understand how shoving a broomstick up someone’s butt while the rest of the team stands around and cheers is supposed to make the victim feel like more a part of the team. Scum, the lot of them, that do those things.
Tagliabue, Wife Honored for PFLAG Work
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and his wife, Chandler, were honored by the New York chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays with the PFLAG 2005 Stay Close Individual Leadership Award. Tagliabue had given a sizable donation to PFLAG for the campaign. Tagliabue's son, Drew, is openly gay.
Cheerleader Quits Over Gay Taunts
A male cheerleader at a high school in Colorado quit the squad after being constantly teased about his sexuality, the Greeley Tribune Reported (tip to Towelroad).
Cole Graves, 17, who is also on the wrestling team, said the last straw was a team picture on the website of Platte Valley High School with “I’M GAY” under two male cheerleaders. "It's been going on for three or four months now," Graves told the Tribune. "Now it's posted on the picture on the Internet." The school said it took down the picture after being made aware of it and will investigate Graves’ charges.
Graves said he faced constant taunts and that last week "after I got out of wrestling practice, four guys were waiting on the corner to beat me up because they said I was gay. I'm not gay."
Graves said the experience has given him sympathy for others who are taunted. "I know I'm not gay," he said. "It's probably harder for a person who is gay and has to be called names. I feel so sorry for them."
I certainly have sympathy for what Graves went through and hope school officials get to the bottom of it. But it was troubling (though not surprising for a teen) for him to tell the Denver Post: “Everybody called me a fag, but I'm not gay. I'm just a regular guy.” We can hope he learns that gay and regular aren’t mutually exclusive.--Jim Buzinski
Penn State Coach Is a Lesbian Hater
Penn State women’s basketball coach Rene Portland has always been one of the nastiest homophobes in sports, vowing to never have lesbians on her team. She is now being called on it by a former player.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights sent a letter on behalf of former Penn State basketball star Jennifer Harris to University President Graham Spanier, demanding that action be taken against Portland for her “decades-long policy of harassing players whom Coach Harris believed to be lesbians.” The complaint says that “despite Harris’ outstanding performance as a player during her two-year career at Penn State from 2003 to 2005, Coach Portland repeatedly questioned Harris about her sexual orientation, repeatedly threatened to kick Harris off the team if she found out Harris was a lesbian, and eventually told other players not to associate with Harris because she believed that Harris was gay. In 2005, Coach Portland abruptly told Harris to find somewhere else to play.”
“My departure from Penn State was very painful,” said Harris. “I struggled with whether I should just walk away and try to forget what happened. I finally realized that I could never put this incident behind me as long as other students were being subjected to the same sort of humiliation and discrimination I experienced from Coach Portland. In the end, I knew I had to speak out. Coach Portland very nearly destroyed not only my athletic career, but also my dream of completing my education and becoming a doctor. I do not want to see a single other student damaged in this way.” She is now enrolled James Madison University.
Harris' mother, Pearl Harris, told the Daily Collegian campus paper that in spite of the alleged harassment, her daughter is not a lesbian. “Because Coach Portland thought that I was gay, I was treated in a very demeaning manner,” said Jennifer Harris, even banning her from the 2004-2005 team awards banquet.
Portland is notorious for publicly stating in 1986 she would not have lesbians on her team ("I will not have it in my program," Portland told the Chicago Sun Times. "I bring it up and the kids are so relieved and the parents are so relieved."), yet Penn State has never disciplined her. A coach who said she did not want any Jews or blacks on her team would be fired in a day. “It is particularly troubling that such flagrant homophobia is permitted to thrive at a school like Penn State, which has such a strong public commitment to diversity, tolerance, and eliminating hatred, violence, prejudice, and discrimination from the University community,” said Helen Carroll, NCLR’s Sports Coordinator. Later in the year, Harris filed suit against Portland and Penn State.
Swoopes Comes Out
Basketball star Sheryl Swoopes, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time MVP of the WNBA, has come out publicly as a lesbian, making her the highest-profile team sport athlete to come out while playing.
Swoopes, 34, has been hired as a spokeswoman for Olivia Cruises, which specializes in tour packages for lesbians. In connection with this, she is doing an extensive round of interviews with media outlets to talk about her decision to come out.
Swoopes told ESPN the magazine for their issue hitting newsstands Wednesday that she is "tired of having to hide my feelings about the person I care about."
Lacrosse Players Wear G-Strings, Too
Shippensburg University is a small little school in Pennsylvania. Marquette is a small school in Wisconsin. But, their lacrosse teams are making headlines - and turning heads - for photos that are popping up all over the Web showing hazing incidents involving g-strings and bongs.
Hazing has long been a tradition in uber-masculine arenas of sports and fraternities. It's also been illegal for quite some time. Now, both programs are facing major sanctions for sponsoring hazing exercises that force new players to be nude, drink alcohol and suck things off the floor. And they say gay men don't play sports. Hah! -Cyd Zeigler jr.
Copy Editor's Lesbian Joke Gets Him Pushed 'Out'
A now-former copy editor at the Danbury News-Times is looking for a new job after a "humorous" photo caption accidentally went live on the newspaper's Web site.
The picture is of a girls' soccer team celebrating a goal scored in a championship-clinching win Nov. 5. The newspaper's website published the photograph, but the caption said it was celebrating a teammate's decision to "come out of the closet as a lesbian."
Dumb. Very dumb.
Truth be told, this kind of thing happens regularly: copy editors, bored with reading text for hours upon hours upon hours, go a little stir crazy and start coming up with "funny" captions. The hope, of course, is that it doesn't go live. This one did.
The paper fired the copy editor and apologized on the Web site and in the print edition of the paper (with a circulation of 33,000). But, I don't think the girls in the picture - some of whom have surely heard the "lesbian" accusation more than once - thought it was so funny. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
Gay Northwestern Fan Loves His Hot Players
A gay Northwestern Wildcats fan has started a blog under the name of his favorite player - and he's catching some flack for it.
As he says in the About Us section of the site: "The Ross Lane Fan Club is comprised of sexy straight women and hot gay guys (but mostly hot gay guys) with an arguably unhealthy obsession with Northwestern University football and basketball. We are particularly smitten with NU redshirt freshman wide receiver Ross Lane, hence the name."
Of course, some homophobic fans have already found the site that just went up this way; and at least one of them sent the site an email proclaiming: "I don't think you faggots are funny at all."
We do and wish the Ross Lane Fan Club the best of luck. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
Lesbian Panther Cheerleaders?
The cats were away - and the cheerleaders decided to play. According to news reports out of Tampa, two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders were arrested Sunday for an altercation that occurred after the two women were allegedly having sex the bathroom of a local bar. The Panthers were in town to play the Buccaneers Sunday. Carolina won the game, 34-14.
According to records, police arrested Kristen Lanier Owen, 22, and Angela Ellen Keathley, 26, the names of two Carolina Panthers TopCats. Owen could also face obstructin of justice charges, as she allegedly gave police false identification or a false name upon arrest.
The bar manager told 6News in Tampa that patrons complained to him that the women were refusing to leave the stall. Witnesses say they saw the women having sex. Witnesses allege that when the two women did finally come out of the stall, they started throwing punches.
Officers told 6News that Keathley was so drunk she could barely stand. The two women spent the night in Hillsborough County jail and were released on bond Sunday morning.
Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa Bay, voted earlier this year to not allow gay-pride events. I guess they consider two lesbians in a bathroom stall a parade. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
Anti-Gay Slur Campaign
In 1999, I paid an obscene amount of money to a scalper to get a ticket to a Manchester United v. Chelsea FA Cup match in Manchester, England. Walking into the stadium was something I’ll never forget: the sound of 65,000 people chanting and singing, the bright color of the pitch, the excitement in the air. The scalper was right: it was a great ticket, twelve rows up at the center line. All my excitement turned a bit sour, however, a few minutes in to the match. Graham Le Seux was a fullback for Chelsea and every time he touched the ball – every. single. time. – the United fans around me would start shouting "Poof! Shirtlifter! Bumboy!" and other charming British equivalents of "faggot". I later found out that Le Seux was thought to be gay because (and this isn’t a joke) he read a left-wing newspaper, The Guardian, and liked to collect expensive art. All the anti-gay taunting put a damper on an otherwise great afternoon.
Six years later, the Football Association, English football’s governing body, has announced a campaign to stamp out homophobic abuse of players and opposing fans. It’s modeled on their high-profile Kick Racism Out campaign, which has had a positive effect on the reception black players get at matches (sadly, there’s not many black fans). Match officals – referees and linesmen – will be instructed to be on the lookout for homophobic abuse, with the power to dish out yellow/red cards to players. The hotline that was set up to report racist abuse amongst fans will now take complaints of anti-gay slurs as well. It’s another small, but welcomed, step towards making homophobic comments a thing of the past at sporting events, something I wish was a thing of the past six years ago. [Hat tip to Towleroad for the link] --Jim Allen
Celtics Voice Concern Over Gay NBA Player
No one will ever come out of the closet in the NBA, if many of the Boston Celtics have their way. In a story in the Boston Herald on Tuesday, several members of the organization voice their concerns over the idea of having a gay player in the league.
“I probably wouldn’t want to guard him,” Paul Pierce told the Herald, seemingly only half-joking.
“It’s a lot different in the WNBA,” Pierce said. “A lot of the girls there are (gay) anyway. I didn’t know that (Swoopes) was gay, but I’m not really surprised. I’ve seen a few of them out together, and you just know.
“But professional basketball would be tough for a guy. You’re talking about only 12 guys in the locker room. It’s personal. It would be tough out in public, too. Our faces are seen more than baseball, where they have a hat, or football with helmets.”
The questions were a direct result of WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes' announcement last week that she is gay.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers told the Boston Herald that he thinks it would be incredibly rough for an openly gay player in the NBA.
“The jabs wouldn’t stop,” Rivers said. “And the guy would have to take it. He’d have to understand that it wasn’t personal. The great thing about team sports are the ways these guys can get on each other in the locker room and on the bus rides, and it’s brutal. These guys leave no rocks unturned, and the great thing about it is that the guy who’s the target laughs along with it.
“If a guy came out and said he was gay, for a day no one would say anything, but then right after that they would kill him. And it would be in a team way. That’s all that I hope would happen.”
Former Celtic Robert Parish, who now works for the team, was surprised about Swoopes' news. Interestingly, he predicted bad things ahead for her.
“I’m just as surprised as anyone else, but I do admire her,” Parish said. “It shows that she’s very courageous, to step forward like that. It could turn out to be a very negative thing for her, career-wise. It could alienate family and friends.”
What is most interesting to me in these comments is that they all predict doomsday for an openly gay player; yet, it's precisely these people who will determine whether it's good or bad. It's just too bad that these guys - these Black men - can get away with saying these things.
Speaking of basketball, the NBA season tipped off Tuesday night and started up where it left off: with a Spurs victory. San Antonio beat the Denver Nuggets, a popular choice to contend for the title, 102-91. Ho-hum. I hear the seasom ends sometime three years from now. Wake me up when the playoffs start.-Cyd Zeigler jr.
More Pro Athletes on Gay Players
When asked by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer how he'd feel if one of his teammates was gay, journeyman forward Danny Fortson, now with the Seattle Supersonics, his fifth team in eight years, couldn't have been more unsupportive.
"I wouldn't want to be on that team. It wouldn't be a good idea," Fortson said. "As athletes, we still have a grade-school mentality where we pick on people a little bit. It's not going to work with us. I don't think it's very acceptable behavior for men as far as I'm concerned."
My sister is friends with Fortson. When I called her Wednesday night to ask her about it, she was incredibly angry. He is homophobic, she said, but a TRUE homoPHOBE: he's scared of gay people. It's less of a hatred than a fear, she said.
We say it over and over again, and I can't help but say it again. Can you imagine if he was white and said, "I don't want to play with Black people"? Yet, he gets away with this incredibly hateful speech that builds an incredibly negative work environment.
Fortson's teammate, Nick Collison, was more supportive but still painted a very negative picture. "I've never had a teammate I've known was openly gay," Collison told the Post-Intelligencer. "I don't have a problem with homosexuality. I'm not here to judge people (but) I don't think (he) would be accepted with open arms, I can tell you that. I don't think it's right, but that's the reality of it."
Across town with the Seattle Seahawks, there was a slightly more enlightened tone in the comments the Post-Intelligencer reported.
"Obviously, right now if you go around the corner, there are 20 guys in the shower, and there are only 15 shower heads," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "It's a little uncomfortable right now for heterosexuals. ... It's a tough one.
"It would depend. If someone is professional about their job and is choosing to have the same focus you're focused on -- winning football games -- (then) great."
Center Robbie Tobeck, who played with Esera Tuaolo for the Atlanta Falcons, said he didn't "think it would have changed anything" if he had known Tuaolo was gay while they played together. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
Stern on Shockey
Cyd and I have been big fans of Howard Stern, especially after he read stories once on-air from Outsports, including one that saidthe Montreal Expos mascot Youppi was gay. Stern was not told the story was a spoof and he got pissed off at his producer when he found out it wasn’t true.
This was the same Howard Stern who got New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey to say he’d never play with a gay teammate, comments that caused an uproar. Stern, on the eve of jumping to Sirius satellite radio, gave an interview to Fox where he talked about his favorite sports and sex moments on the show. Shockey was one of them and here’s what he had to say:
“OK, Jeremy Shockey. I asked him if there were gay guys on his team. And he went ballistic and he said he would never play with a gay person. And that made big news because, after all, he exhibited so much homophobia. And it was kind of a shame in the sense that he was a huge fan of my show and ever since he did that his handlers won't let him come back on my show.
“Yeah, because you know he was being honest. This is a farm boy, and out there you know, you make love to a chicken. They don't know from anything. So it was kind of, kind of funny.”--Jim Buzinski
"He's Gay to Me"
We admit we were hoping supermodel Gisele Bundchen knew something we didn't when we saw that she said about Tom Brady, "He's gay to me."
Alas, the Victoria's Secret model was referring to the fact that Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, was already dating Bridget Moynahan. “He’s cute, but if he has a girlfriend, he’s gay to me,” Bundchen told the Boston Herald after she watched Sunday's Patriots-Jets game in person. “There are too many men in the world to go after a man who has a woman. Life is too short.”
Bundchen, who dated Leonardo Di Caprio, said Brady stacked up pretty well. "Tom Brady, definitely not too shabby," she said. "He’s pretty cute. All-American, that’s a good way to describe him."
Brady was a little red-faced when asked by a Boston radio station about Bundchen's gay comment. "Oh, geez, that’s a little harsh," he said on WEEI. "That’s crazy." Brady said it was hard for his teammates to concentrate on the game Sunday when Bundchen's picture was posted on the stadium scoreboard. "She was up there [on the scoreboard] and there’s 11 guys in the huddle looking up at her," Brady said. "And you go, ‘Come on guys.' "
It seems that everyone drools over Brady, three-time Super Bowl champion and this year's Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. Teammate Chrisitan Fauria said this in October. "I love that guy. I wish he didn't have a girlfriend. Did I say that out loud? I did, didn't I?" Tom Brady, a man of all the people. --Jim Buzinski
Made into a Soccer Player
MTV’s “Made” has made a name for itself making over teenagers and turning them into things they never thought possible. There was the girl they made into a pageant queen, the boy who learned to be a playwright and the girl who wanted to play football.
The latest episode of Made, for me, takes the prize. The people at MTV found a 295-pound gay high school junior, who loves drama and participates on the school cheerleading squad, who wanted to become a soccer player. Josh came out to his school in Bethel, a town of 2,000 smack dab in the middle of Vermont, as a sophomore and since then has felt the brunt of jokes from the boys in his class, many of whom play on the very same soccer team he wants to join.
Josh’s coach Steve is a hunky (though Josh doesn’t think so) coach of some sort with Major League Soccer’s New York/New Jersey MetroStars. He pushes Josh to his limit, making him run and crawl and run and dribble and run. Josh struggles through it, all 295 pounds of him.
But the hardest part, it seems, proves to be socializing with the other boys. At a soccer camp Steve enrolls Josh in, Josh is more interested in talking and laughing with the girls. Steve puts his foot down: talk with jocks or else. When it comes time for the first day of practice with his team, he’s shocked to find out he’s lost 30 pounds and the guys actually invite him out for food and a milkshake after practice. Seeing Josh lose weight, change his image and work his ass off to make the team, it seems, earned him a little of the guys’ respect; and, of course, gave Josh a little self-respect along the way.
Josh doesn’t get to start his first game, but he does get to enter the game with about 12 minutes left. The way the episode is edited, it looks like Josh even gets an assist in the game; but, I can’t tell if that is, truly, just the way it was edited.
What I loved about his episode was how it showed one teenager in New England that through sports you can learn that you can accomplish anything in life. The kid went from screaming how he couldn’t do a simple jogging exercise in 90 seconds (after crying about it, he completed it in under 60) to taking aim at a starting position on his high school soccer team. I wish more gay kids would follow Josh’s lead and get everything they can out of sports while they’re still young enough to learn the life lessons sports have to teach. -Cyd Zeigler jr.
"Do You Love Me?"
The strange case of Mike Danton, the former NHL player convicted in a murder-for-hire plot, got even stranger when Canadian television got hold of audiotapes between Danton and his former agent, David Frost.
"Hey, Mike. Listen ... do I have to worry about my safety any more?" says Frost in one tape to Danton in 2004 as the player sat in a California jail.
"No, you don't," Danton replies. "I got to go."
"OK, do you love me?" Frost asks. When Danton says yes, Frost presses him: "Say it."
"I love you," Danton says.
"Yeah," is Danton's reply.
The tapes, made by the FBI, were played on “CBC News: the fifth estate” on Wednesday. They describe Frost still trying to manipulate Danton in the week after the player was arrested in a plot to murder the agent. Danton, 25, is serving a 7 ½-year sentence in a New Jersey federal after he pleaded guilty in 2004 to trying to arrange Frost's murder. A female friend who was charged as an accessory was acquitted.
On the tapes, Frost is heard trying to coach Danton into what to say to investigators. CBC reporter Bob McKeown told the Toronto Globe and Mail, "You can hear in the conversations Frost reclaiming his position as Danton's mentor — telling him what to do, telling him what to say and how to say it."
Frost still publicly denies that he was Danton’s intended target, but on the tapes he asks the player why he was targeted. "I just wanted fucking to do things you know and things weren't fucking good between that person and it was like there was no other way," Danton says, though he never says who that person is.
Interviews with Danton’s parents, from who he is estranged, describe Frost as a manipulative creep who in one incident allegedly duct-taped a preteen player naked to a bed at a Frost’s summer cottage and took pictures.
It’s clear that whatever “love” existed between Danton and Frost was twisted and warped and influenced by the older man’s Svengali-like effect on the impressionable player who even dropped his given last name after the falling out with his parents. As reporter McKeown says: "It's like a cross between an Elmore Leonard novel and a Coen brothers movie."
Danton is also asking a federal judge to reconsider his sentence, contending he was promised a transfer to a Canadian prison when he pleaded guilty in July 2004. --Jim Buzinski
Soccer Players Coming Out?
We received this story from the Financial Times from several readers: “Three homosexual German professional footballers have agreed to come out of the closet, but only if campaigners can find eight more gay players to come out with them. One of the three is very prominent indeed, while the other two play in Germany’s lower divisions. It’s another sign that the last bastion of homophobia – male-team sports – is tottering.”
Unfortunately, that’s all the story has to say about the rumor since the rest is devoted to whether sports are ready for openly gay players. There’s no attribution of where this information came from, or who these “campaigners” are. So forgive me if I’m not as excited as some of the people who sent me the article.
We hear these rumors all the time and they never come to pass. Last year, an alleged huge name in British soccer was going to come out. Never happened. Or we hear that Magazine X or TV network Y is ready to go public with a big name. Hasn’t happened. While I’ll be the first cheering on an active male elite jock who comes out, I’m not holding my breath. It’s bound to happen one of these days but let’s wait for a name to be attached to these rumors. Mike Piazza declaring he’s straight or Jeff Garcia announcing he’s dating a Playmate don’t count. --Jim Buzinski