clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NBC, media ignore Mitcham's sexuality

It was disappointing to see NBC not mention anything about Matthew Mitcham's sexuality. The biggest reason for me is a journalistic reason: It's a big story. The only openly gay male athlete in Beijing pulled off one of the great upsets at the Olympics in a spectacular fashion. If he had had cancer, or if his parents had been killed in a car crash when he was 2, or if he had just proposed to his girlfriend, they would have mentioned it. But they never showed him hugging his boyfriend, never mentioned it. They referred to "personal problems," but I'm afraid they decided Matthew's sexuality was off limits. A real shame.

Yahoo agrees:

"NBC did not mention Mitcham's orientation, nor did they show his family and partner who were in the stands. NBC has made athletes' significant others a part of the coverage in the past, choosing to spotlight track athlete Sanya Richards' fiancee, a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and Kerri Walsh's wedding ring debacle"

In fact, it's not easy to find a mention of him being gay in the press today at all. Only a handful of sites and newspapers are mentioning it. Even the New York Times decided to not mention his sexuality, or his struggle to get his partner to Beijing with him. People will say, "it's not part of the story, he's just an athlete," but they are wrong. His sexuality, specifically because he's the ONLY ONE, and because gay men are painted as unathletic in our culture, makes it a big part of the story.

Some of the few places that did include it:

Los Angeles Times: "Not only did he quit diving, but he battled depression and then took a big step, coming out in an interview..."

U.K.'s Guardian: "Matthew Mitcham did two surprising things in Beijing. He scooped a gold medal from the apparently invincible Chinese diving team and told anyone who asked that he is gay."

Sydney Morning Herald: "From teenage retirement to Royal Easter Show high-diver to gay icon to gold Olympic medallist; Matthew Mitcham's journey to success has been an amazing roller-coaster."

Monsters & Critics: "...he did not only have the support of a sports-mad country behind him, he also had the support of a large part of the gay community."

Update: NBC defends its decision.