Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

[2008 Olympics] teh gay

I was sightseeing in a non-English-speaking country (and staying in hostels, rather than say hotels which would have had tvs in the bedrooms), so I was even less up on Olympics stuff than I would have been otherwise (I don't expect I would have watched much of the Games, but I would have at least read the metro on the way to work and seen the tvs in the gym).

After I got back I read two articles -- Scotsman.com (from a commenter on one of mjules' entries) and TimesOnline.uk (from my dad) -- about sex and the Olympics . . . because I may not care much about sports, but sex is always a way to grab my attention :)

From page 2 of the latter:
Alyson Annan and Carole Thate: Two great international hockey players Alyson Annan (Australia) and Carole Thate (Netherlands) met in Sydney (2000). Their friendship led to a civil partnership in 2005 and they have recently had a son via donated sperm.
I later read NBC censors gay Olympic history (Video update) (4 UPDATES) by seanflynn.

There's much debate in the comments over whether "censorship" is really the right term [plus discussion of all the criticism of China that hasn't been done -- e.g., here, here], and I think it unlikely that there was any explicit directive not to acknowledge Mitcham's homosexuality (esp. since one commenter said, "though they didn't announce the fact upon his win, they do mention it in his bio"), but it does sound like the commentators knew Mitcham's backstory and (awkwardly) avoided stating it [see here, here, here].

In the comments, a plethora of examples are given of commentators talking about "human interest" stories, including of non-USian athletes (Mitcham is Australian). One commenter said, "The only backgrounds NBC bothered with were the American athletes who were expected to win golds, and daytime women's talk-show fodder. [...] It's NBC's idea of 'appealing to female sports fans,' you see."

One commenter argued:
if we don't care about an Aussie diver...

then why did NBC show much of the men's platform competition? --

They choose to devote at least 45 minutes of prime time broadcast to a competition (they already knew the results of because of time difference). No Americans were in serious medal contention - but NBC still found it interesting enough to broadcast a big chunk of the competition.

Diving gets ratings as a sport, whether Americans are winning or not. Out of hundreds of gold medal performances in Beijing, this event was one of the few NBC chose to spend so much valuable (advertiser expensive) air time on. Americans were interested enough to watch that, and NBC played up the story of what an upset it was that Mitcham won, making a point to show most of his dives in the final round -- they just chose to ignore an interesting and important part of the story.
One commenter quoted Mitcham:
"I just want to be known as the Australian diver who did really well at the Olympics," he says. "It's everybody else who thinks it's special when homosexuality and elite sport go together."
My read on that is that he doesn't wanna be singled out with implications of "It's so rare and unusual for a gay person to be athletically successful." I don't think he would have an issue with the sort of mention of his partner that so many of the other athletes get.

Various commenters pulled out the "Hey, it's not like the commentators were announcing the sexual orientation of all the straight athletes," to which various other people replied pointing out that referring to someone's opposite-sex spouse/partner/whomever does in fact announce their sexual orientation (we'll leave aside the elision of bisexuals in those whole issue) -- not to mention the fact that everyone's assumed to be straight unless explicitly stated otherwise. (Someone said that SO's were usually only mentioned when it was a spouse, not a boyfriend/girlfriend, to which others pointed out that in most of the world, one's same-sex partner can't be one's spouse technically even if the couple has been committed to each other for a long time.)

Some articulations I really liked:
- "Nothing to do with his sex life, but everything to do with his family life." [source]
- " 'I don't care if he's gay' can be -- and, here, is being -- interpreted as 'I don't want to hear about his being gay' " [source]

One thing I hadn't thought of was: "the role-model aspect is at least as, if not more, important for parents of gay kids as it is for the kids themselves. The anti-gay industry strongly pushes a stereotype of how gay kids will end up, and parents need to see counterexamples." [source]

One commenter said (responding to the "Mitcham's sexuality is irrelevant" argument):
But his partner WAS the story.

Matt came out because he wanted to apply for the Olympic family grant program from J&J. It was huge news in Australia.

This WAS news. This wasn't just "A" gay athlete--it was one that was doubly newsworthy.
Followup: E-mail J&J to thank them - reward good behavior :) by IseFire

[Random sidebar: John Barrowman too "straight" to play Will on Will and Grace? Citation please? There's also discussion of Johnny Weir.]

One commenter said:
Older female athletes also fare poorly

A recent Washington Post issue covering the Olympics devoted the first 8 or 9 pages to several male athletes before it got around to discussing the spectacular wins of TWO female athletes roughly 40 years of age. That, notably, is the age at which workplace age discrimination typically begins. Thus, their successes sent the message that physical abilities can remain strong into the second half of life, It's a message that corporate America needs to hear. Unfortunately, many WaPo readers probably missed it.
See also: Olympic gold for LGBT athletes (by pico).

Natasha Kai is out [citation]? Somehow I missed that -- even though I know who she is (to the extent of knowing her sport and having a visual) thanks to sexonastick.


I also really liked this story about a guy Getting It about how crushing heteronormativity is.


Oh, and Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi got married. My mom said she read something where Ellen talked about how she was saying "I do" all the time -- e.g., "Do you want pasta?" "I do." V. cute. [Edit: My mom points me here. Thanks, Mom!]
Tags: everyone's gay, issues: queer, issues: representation, sex, sports: olympics, sports: olympics: 2008

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