The Out Eleven in Beijing -- all but one are women. And how are they doing?
On the athletic front, some are struggling. But on the human rights front, they're doing just fine. Indeed, we're maintaining a solid activist presence there. The two U.S. lesbian softball players, second baseman Vicki Galindo (who is bisexual) and catcher Lauren Lappin, joined with two of their teammates and 10 other Beijing athletes in protesting Chinese foreign policy affecting the Darfur situation. Galindo and Lappin signed the now-famous open letter on Darfur -- the one that got speed skater Joey Cheek barred from entering China.
(This is not the Amnesty International letter that German fencer Imke Duplitzer signed.) In spite of the PRC's hostile reaction to Cheek (he wasn't competing), the 14 were cleared to enter China and compete.
On the actual athletic front, I scoured through the NBC website results and find that we're still in the mix in a few sports. The U.S. softball team is advancing through eliminations. In women's soccer on Friday, Natasha Kai made headlines with an overtime goal to give the U.S. a 2-1 victory over Canada in a long grueling storm-plagued game. In so doing, Kai secured the U.S. a spot in the semi-finals. Clearly she's a valued player.
But so far, no individual medals. LGBT athletes surely went to Beijing with the same aim as anyone else -- getting on the podium. In Athens 2004, we had a few high-profile individuals competing -- including three of the world's best women's tennis players -- Martina Navratilova, Conchita Martinez and Amelie Mauresmo. But being "one of the best" doesn't guarantee a medal. Martinez and her doubles partner won silver in the women's doubles, but Navratilova and her partner were eliminated at the semi-finals. Disappointments can hit the greatest.
So here are the LGBT disappointments in individual competition so far: Australian tennis player Rennae Stubbs, a Wimbledon doubles champion, played in Beijing women's doubles. She and doubles partner Stosur lost to Spain in the 2nd round of eliminations. World champion German cyclist Judith Arndt was a silver medalist in Athens, but in Beijing she finished a crushing 41st in the women's road race. In fencing, Imke Duplitzer finished 5th in women's epee, despite medaling in world championships and Athens.
The lone gay male in the out group, Matthew Mitcham of Australia, still has his shot in men's diving events.
In team sports, Norway's Gro Hammerseng and Katya Nyberg are still in the handball eliminations -- their team leads the Group A rankings. Hammerseng is the Norwegian team captain. But Victoria "Vickan" Svensson and the rest of the Swedish team went down to Germany 2-0 in the women's soccer quarter-finals. And the German team, with its lesbian player Linda Bresonik, moves on to semi-finals.
According to Monica Roberts at TransGriot, there are no transgender athletes in Beijing. The IOC changed their rules to allow transgender competition, but the rule changes came too late for many individuals to qualify for Beijing. Hopefully we'll see them in London.
The bottom line: the Out Eleven may not be getting to the Beijing podium -- but they are scoring some points in the life-and-death political game-playing around human rights.