Story from Sept. 5, 2004
Since returning to the United States from their successful stint at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Paul and Morgan Hamm have been on a whirlwind tour. They've appeared on every broadcast network, done morning and late-night shows and are now on a five-week gymnastics tour that will take them from New England to Arizona.
We caught up with the brothers while they were preparing for an appearance in Durham, N.H., last week. They are now the featured performers in the 2004 Rock 'N Roll Gymnastics Championships touring the U.S..
While the demands on them have been tough, they say they have welcomed every bit of it. The twins each say they are excited to be back in the states, and welcome every fan--gay or straight.
"It feels good to have fans from all different backgrounds," Morgan said. "To all of the people who support me, I'm so thankful," Paul added when asked if he feels differently about his gay fans than he does his straight fans. "To see all of the support, especially with the controversy, is awesome."
The controversy he spoke of surrounds a scoring error that incorrectly deducted a tenth of a point from the score of bronze medalist Yang Tae Young of Korea. Young has filed a complaint with the Court of Arbitration of Sport to claim the gold medal, despite the fact that he was also not deducted two-tenths of a point for illegally holding a fourth position in his routine. Paul's attorney, Kelly C. Crabb, has stated in a letter to CAS, "Mr. Hamm intends to aggressively protect his rights under the applicable rules of his sport...."
While other athletes such as Terrell Owens and Jeremy Shockey have made comments about the idea of a gay teammate that ranged from outright homophobic to guarded, the two gymnasts were welcoming when asked about it.
"I would think of them the same way I think of all my teammates," Paul said. He added that someone's sexuality shouldn't be a consideration for his teammates. "They should be thought of as athletes."
While some may wonder why athletes in an "individual sport" talk about having teammates, the Hamm brothers view gymnastics as a team sport. While there are awards handed out for individual performance, there are in every other sport as well. To Paul, his team's success relies on his personal success.
Just as with any attractive, white, successful male athlete, the brothers have been the subjects of some (wishful) rumors that they might be gay.
"That rumor doesn't bother me," Morgan said. "It's almost flattering. It makes me feel that we are reaching all kinds of people and touching them."
The brothers are each both dating women right now, and Paul's girlfriend of about six months is traveling with them on their present tour. Paul and his girlfriend met when he enrolled at Ohio State University in January. "We're having a great time together," Paul said.
They are no strangers to gay people, however. They have an uncle, Danny, and an aunt, Margaret, who are gay.
"We have great relationships with them. I don't get to see my uncle Danny as much as I'd like to because he's in New York," Morgan said. When they were in New York City just following their return to the U.S., they got to spend some time with Danny and his partner, Edward. The couple also followed the twins to their first tour performance at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
The brothers both point to an accepting family as the reason they are so welcoming of gay people. They were born and raised in Waukesha, Wis., about 20 miles west of Milwaukee. Paul said the brothers grew up in a very open family where they learned not to judge people. Morgan said their entire family is very accepting of their gay aunt and uncle.
Their present tour will bring them to several large cities--Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Detroit, Kansas City, Denver, Phoenix and Cincinnati to name a few. For information on the tour, visit the 2004 Rock 'N Roll Gymnastics Championships Web site.