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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Identity » Sticks, balls and the deepest, darkest closet of them all: gays and sports

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Author Topic: Sticks, balls and the deepest, darkest closet of them all: gays and sports
Dzuunmod
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In Monday's New York Post newspaper, a gossip columnist reported that a persistent rumour suggests that there is a gay member of the New York Mets baseball club. Further to that, the item claimed that this closeted player is a prominent member of the team.

The following day, Mets' star Mike Piazza replied, saying flatly that he isn't gay.

"I'm heterosexual," Piazza said. "I can't control what people think. I can say I'm heterosexual. I date women. I don't see a need to address it any further."

Needless to say, much ink has and will be spilled on the subject - and sports radio talk shows are having a field day with the topic. One columnist for the same paper, the New York Post, had a column pulled from the paper on the topic in which he argues that Major League Baseball isn't ready for an openly gay baseball player.

This is a touch topic. Professional sports is probably among the most homophobic domains of Western society today. It raises many questions.

Do you think that gay athletes should come out? What about gay athletes who aren't superstars? Mike Piazza is a superstar. Someone who isn't a superstar could come out, and get released by his team without much of an uproar. If a superstar came out, his team would have to hang on to him, simply because he means too much to the team's potential for success.

Gays and sports don't go together in many people's eyes. If a gay athlete came out, he would face the prospect of playing in front of thousands of hostile fans, night in and night out.

What do you think about all of this?

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badly_behaved_badger
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One day, a very brave sports-person will come out and that might just prompt some others to come out, too. I pray for whoever that person is, coz it ain't gonna be easy! But all it takes is that one brave person to teach the world a bit of tolerance.

I feel so ashamed that people can be so homophobic, and yes, they will make it hell for whoever comes out.

To answer your question, yes I think superstars should come out, because they will be sending a message that gay people can play sports, too. I think people will respect them for being so brave.

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Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of a man's heart and the fall through the air of the wise, true friend called piggy - Lord of the Flies


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Gumdrop Girl
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depends on the sport, then, i suppose.

martina navratilova
billie jean king
greg louganis
et al

how about stereotypical "gay" sports like softball and figure skating?

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Color is for crayons, not for people.


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Dzuunmod
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That's very true, Gumdrop, but rare is the team sport that's accepting and tolerant.

Also, lesbians have an easier time of it in sports, than do gay men, it seems to me. Lesbians, if you go by the stereotypes (which I do not, but many people do) are tough and perfect for sports. Gay men tend only to come out if they are in artistic type sports, it seems to me. Like you said, figure skating is a good example, as is diving, which was Greg Lougainis' sport.

One other thing: It's interesting to note that figure skating, probably the gayest sport of them all (just going by the number of out athletes there), is watched on television primarily by women - one of the few sports like that.

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"...the airport's almost always empty this time of the year, so let's go play on a baggage carousel. Set our watches forward like we're just arriving here from a past we left in a place we knew too well."
-The Weakerthans

[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 05-23-2002).]


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TenohSetsuna
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I row with a middle/high school team that has four divisions(Men/Women Varsity, Men/Women Novice--kind of like a one year JV). You won't believe me here, but every single one of those teams this year had a top athlete who's gay. So one of them's seriously in the closet and won't come out with a machine gun at his head, but that's beside the point. For the rest of us, no one cares. I have come across none of the "Ewww, lesbian alert!" crap that is so considered a part of sports. Neither has anyone else. Maybe I've got a rare group of people on my team. Or maybe I've got the future of high-end competiton.

Should gay atheletes come out? Not if they don't want to. It shouldn't be an issue, but it is. Maybe they should let their partner/girlfriend/boyfriend sit in the main spectator spot usually reserved for the spouses of their team and ignore the salivating gossip columnists.

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I don't want eternity. But Arashii is mine.

"I never said I was a boy." - Tenoh Haruka, episode 92, Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon


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ice_magick
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RUDY GALINDO RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Sh!mmeR!ng*staR
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i think they should if they want to. they shouldn't have to get kicked off of their team just cos of their sexual orientation; it has nothing to do with how they play and furthermore it's discrimination.

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Pumpkin_Pie
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I play a lot of sports with my school and, while i one sense, being a lesbian means that sports is a place where I'm more accepted, it also means that there's trouble in the locker room! On the field lesbians are more accepted than gay men(to broadly generalise) but off it and in the shower rooms then I think its pretty much the same.

Should they come out?

Not if they don't want to!
Its a totally personal decision to come out or not whether you're a computer engineer, a pop star, a janitor in a school or a professional football palyer. A job shouldn't change that fact. And laets face it, when you boil it all down, that's what a sports profession is- a job.


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Confused boy
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But viewing it in a wider political light, if a few sportsmen came out at the same time it might start to break up one of the great traditional bastions of homophobia. Every individual can change the world around them and, perhaps unfortunately, people in this society seem to take their cues more from celebrities, sportsmen being among them.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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Pumpkin_Pie
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That's true I just don't think that anyone should come out if they don't want to just so that some people think of gay people in a better light but then others make their lives a living hell.
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Dzuunmod
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Following up on the Mike Piazza case in particular, here is a story from a California paper that quotes several San Francisco Giants baseball players on the subject. Some of the quotes are very interesting.

One player was quoted anonymously, saying, "If I found out someone is gay in here, I'd run (him) out. It would be uncomfortable for me and for him in the shower. It would be ugly. We're here to play baseball."

Whoever this is, is making some assumptions. First, that a gay player doesn't have as much of a right to be out as a heterosexual player. Second, that much of society wouldn't turn on him, for running a player out based solely on sexuality. And third, and maybe most importantly, that every gay man on the planet is interested in him sexually.

Another player, who didn't mind going on the record, J.T. Snow, said that "San Francisco is liberal, and fans probably would accept it, but we play half our games on the road. There just would be a lot of unnecessary controversy."

Unnecessary? I see how something like this could create controversy, but I don't see how that controversy would be unnecessary. We're talking here, about people who aren't really living their lives as themselves.

Finally, I guess I was happy to see this paragraph at the bottom of the story: "The Giants' brass has indirectly dealt with the issue before. In 1996, when the Giants had their 'Until There's a Cure Day' for AIDS victims, pitcher Mark Dewey protested because of what he called his strong religious beliefs. He soon was off the club."

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"...the airport's always almost empty this time of the year, so let's go play on a baggage carousel. Set our watches forward like we're just arriving here from a past we left in a place we knew too well."
-The Weakerthans


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Gaffer
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In the newspaper this morning in the editorial section there was a political cartoon that related to this--a line of professionall baseball players sitting on a bench, looking out at the field, and one of them saying: He can't be gay, he's batting .384.

I laughed and thought of Scarleteen, and then I had two exams and now everything seems funny so I'm going to sleep soon. Wish me luck on my chem exam tomorrow (soo evil). Send smart vibes towards Arizona, please.


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shh
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Gafffeeer!
I know you :-)
*wishes smart vibes to Arizona*

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Dzuunmod
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This is kind of interesting. Lesbian fans of the New York Liberty (a professional women's basketball team) are putting some demands on the team, and accusing the team's management of ignoring them.

So, in protest, the group, called Lesbians for Liberty, held a 'kiss-in' during a timeout in a recent game.

While I can understand their frustration at not being recognized as important to the team's business, some of the group's demands are ridiculous. It seems that they want the team to play to their interests entirely.

I just think that sexuality should really have nothing to do at all with the support a sports team gets, or doesn't get. I think it looks silly, and further lowers the credibility of the WNBA (the women's basketball league) in many eyes.

Edited to add: can you imagine a team, any other team, thanking black fans, or Jewish fans, or straight fans in a similar manner? If I saw that in any other context, I'd think it was patronizing, to say the least.

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[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 08-05-2002).]


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Gumdrop Girl
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SF just hosted the First Annual Mark Bingham Gay Rugby Tournament. Throw those effeminite gay man stereotypes out the window, 'cause imho, rugby is the most macho sport I have ever seen.

Mark Bingham was one of the passengers on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11 who fought back against the hijackers. He was also a star rugby player at my alma mater, Cal Berkeley. And he happened to be gay. We at Cal are proud of him, and were thrilled to hear about the rugby tourney.

There are gay rugby leagues across the US. That's all I can remember of the article I read in the SF Chronicle.

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"In God we trust. All others must pay cash..." faw-choon kookie say.


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mnsouthpawjr
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Personally, I've heard of the various comments that have allleged that a few baseball players are either gay or bi. 1 article stated he wanted to out 1 of them. I personally think that no one should be outed and they should come out NOT be forced to.

I know Billy Bean (think it was him) came out after he gave up the sport. I know that was a tough subject.

In an ideal world, anyone should copme out no matter who they are. however, in a realistic world -- america's not ready for it.


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Product_of_Sweden
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I guess I could be considered one of the gay guys that people think of when associated with sports. To put it simple, I suck at every sport ever invented! And I think a lot of people think that gay men or boys or whatever do. I DO like sports, I just cannot play them well. That brings up a lot of problems in gym class. It's always akward.

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Gumdrop Girl
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http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/09/06/WB60772.DTL

The Gay Games VI are in Sydney this year. Read all about it

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"I am so smart, I am so smart, s-m-r-t....I mean s-m-A-r-t." Homer J. Simpson
"Mmm ... floor pie!" Homer J. Simpson


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jazzpenguin
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I tell you now, the majority of my school's best rowers have come out to me (I'm the only openly gay guy in the school) which just goes to show that not all gays are bad at sport - so there goes the stereotype!

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jz


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KandyKorn17
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I think it'll be a long time before people become more comfortable with gay men on sports teams. Too touchy feely.

Same reason girls can't wrestle guys in PE, and people don't have co-ed sleepovers. These ideas make no sense once you start to think about someone being gay.

It's like the USA changing over to the metric system. It's the little things that throw everybody off. Everybody wants to accept gay people, but it's little ideas like why we keep boys and girls separate all the time that makes us not really GET the whole "gay thing"


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badly_behaved_badger
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quote:
Originally posted by KandyKorn17:
It's like the USA changing over to the metric system. It's the little things that throw everybody off. Everybody wants to accept gay people, but it's little ideas like why we keep boys and girls separate all the time that makes us not really GET the whole "gay thing"

Why DO we feel the need to separate little boys and girls? I don't want to lead this off into a huge discussion because that wouldbe going off the subject, but, I don't think it's a question of not getting the "gay thing" as you said, but not understanding sexuality in general. I've seen a lot on this site about how gays are being misunderstood because straight people think they could be perving on them in changing rooms etc. I think separating girls and boys (and by doing so assuming that they are straight) is just convention, but not the 'gospel truth'.
*Badger*

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Philosophers wonder whether the fridge light stays on when the door is closed; fridges wonder whether philosophers still talk rubbish when they take off their corduroy jackets.


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KandyKorn17
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Well, I think it goes right back to the sports thing. I think one of the reasons you're not gonna see a lot of gay people on sports teams coming out is because they're afraid of fellow team mates thinking that they'll be "perving on them" in locker rooms. It's a ridiculous idea, but that doesn't mean people aren't thinking it.
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Dzuunmod
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A couple of months ago, an item appeared in the New York Post implying that Sandy Koufax, a former Los Angeles Dodger pitcher who is now in the Hall of Fame, is gay.

Koufax, since his retirement some decades ago, has continued to work with the Dodgers, attending games and promoting the team.

Both the Post and the Dodgers are owned by Rupert Murdoch. Koufax put those two things together, and decided that the rumour that he is gay, put forth by the Post, is enough to put him off the organization.

I'd be very curious to know if he's upset that the newspaper was writing untrue things about him, or if he was upset that the newspaper was alleging that he is gay. To be honest, I think this whole little episode makes Koufax look bad.

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You can twist his body 'til it faces backwards/Those plastic features/You could make somebody a pretty little wife/But don't let anybody tell you how to live your life.
-Elvis Costello, Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)


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Bobolink
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Does it really? If the Post is right, then they have outed Koufax without his permission; invasion of privacy.

If the Post is wrong, they may be guilty of libel.

Either way, Koufax has every right to be pissed off with them. And since this was done by his employer, he is most justified in resigning.

BTW, the Post later printed a retraction.

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

- Albert Einstein

[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 02-24-2003).]


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Dzuunmod
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Bobo, I'd say that the very uncomfortable relationship between sports and non-heterosexuality is enough to tip the scales towards the "Koufax was upset that someone was calling him gay" side. Rumours like that go with fame, and he should be able to deal with them.

Why is it that athletes are the only ones that seem to consistently have to issue staunch denials when people suspect that they are gay? Why can't they just accept that if they've decided to be famous, this is one of the risks?

You don't want people speculating about your sex life? Be an accountant.

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You can twist his body 'til it faces backwards/Those plastic features/You could make somebody a pretty little wife/But don't let anybody tell you how to live your life.
-Elvis Costello, Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)


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Gumdrop Girl
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http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/04/world/main603942.shtml

A MTF Transsexual played the Women's Australian Open golf tournament.

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Ruiner1890
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Well I suppose to understand this you gotta go back to the foundation - homosexuals are segregated from the 'norm' for being gay.

If this mental segregation didn't exist, we wouldn't be having this discussion (obvious, i know, but you get my point).

In sports, vegetarians (for example) are not singled out from meat-eaters simply because of their preference, this means they don't mind letting people know. The simple truth is that there is a school of thought (an outdated one mind you) stating that gay = bad and it is obviously this that stops gay people coming out: A gay person may want to come out because he/she is happy with himself/herself but is terrified that the world's opinion of him/her will make a change for the worse.

Therein lies the fundamental problem - coming out singles you out and it's rarely in a good way - gay people are very rarely celebrated for coming out. They are tolerated by some and disliked by others simply because of a preference that doesn't even affect them. Nice world we live in


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