Sacre Bleu! A Mascot Comes Out

(This story was published in 2002).

By: Bill Konigsberg

You snooze, you lose. That’s the lesson for all those professional team-sport athletes lining up at the door to be the first to come out while playing. Recently, an event has occurred that will turn the story upside-down.

If being the first to come out was a race, we have a winner:

Youppi!, the beloved Montreal Expos mascot, has come out of the closet.

I found this out the old-fashioned way. The popular mascot whispered as much in my ear as we stood, arm in arm, in the corridor of Gate 101 of Olympic Stadium a few weeks ago (see picture).

“I find you very hot. You are the man I’ve been waiting for,” Youppi! said, as he gripped my shoulder tightly and traced a circle around the nape of my neck with his paw.

(Note: I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this previous statement. It is entirely conceivable that I confused my brief-but-powerful meeting with Youppi! with a dream I had later that night about Tom Selleck.)

When asked, the team refused comment on the sexuality of its mascot. Youppi! himself could not comment, but gesticulated wildly, leading to further speculation that he is indeed gay.

Clues? They are so plentiful it’s hard to believe. I have listed several below.

  1. Lives in Montreal where there appears to be a law against men being exclusively heterosexual.
  1. What straight guy would attach an exclamation point to his name? I don’t know any. However, I do know at least 20 gay men who would, if it were more acceptable, legally add one.
  1. No mascot wife listed in guidebook, where he lists brunch and tea dance and two of his hobbies.
  1. Dances, arms flailing above him, to Kylie Minogue songs on top of home-team’s dugout, gyrating his hips like few other heavy, middle-aged guys can.
  1. Recently seen at male stripper bar in Gay Village of Montreal, getting a lap dance from stripper who, interestingly enough, goes by the nameDamien!.
  1. Did I mention he lives in Montreal?

While Youppi! could or would not answer questions about his sexuality, and the Expos PR refused comment as well, several subject experts offered points of view.

“In Youppi!’s case, he’ll probably be accepted over time,” said Josh Burns, whose book, “Sports Mascots in a Multisexual Age” will be released later this year. “It’ll be easier for a mascot who is really good and popular than it would be for a really suck-ass mascot, like Edgar, Allen, and Poe of the Baltimore Ravens. What’s up with those guys?”

Youppi’s popularity has soared over the years because of his constant work with the community, hilarious antics, and general boredom and confusion experienced by Expos fans at Olympic Stadium.

“It’s one thing to be a gay athlete, that’s cool, but what makes this issue so difficult is that Youppi! is also an entertainer,” said Sharon Glass, who wrote “Sex, Lies, and Rubber Duckies”, the biography of Burt and Ernie after that famous couple came out of the closet to disastrous results. “I’m just not sure America is ready for an actor to be anything other than straight at this point. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.”

Members of some staunchly conservative groups had similar concerns.

“I don’t care what Youppi! does in his bedroom, I just don’t want him doing it on top of the Expos dugout for the world to see,” said Miles Clark of Citizens Against Sexualized Mascots And Puppetry (CASMAP).

He is not, of course, the only baseball mascot rumored to have a divergent sex life. Below I have listed the most updated rumors on each and every mascot rumored to be anything other than heterosexual and living a married, monogamous sex life.

Mascot

Team

Rumor

Swinging Friar

Padres

Struggling with vows of celibacy

Phillie Phanatic

Phillies

Not gay, but highly sought after because of phallic thing that shoots out of his nose

Mr. Met

Mets

Call him Mister or Sir, get a spanking

Bernie Brewer

Brewers

Rumored to be secretly dating editor of gay magazine somewhere on East Coast

Running Sausages

Brewers

Obviously gay

Dinger The Dinosaur

Rockies

Ex-gay, once had a fling with Billy The Marlin during Rockies’ and Marlins’ inaugural season

Edgar, Allen and Poe

Ravens

Women? Nevermore. Three GWM seek fourth for fun and adventure.

Bill Konigsberg is a former editor at ESPN.com, now in graduate school at Arizona State

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