Guest Blogger

Gay Men Don't Play Golf?

Filed By Guest Blogger | June 27, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Angela Brightfeather

[Ebrightfeather.jpgditor's Note: Angela Brightfeather has been a transgender activist for 42 years and is National vice president of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA).]

I'm really not sure how to write this or how to raise the question diplomatically on a blog that politicizes things so thoroughly, but I have a question about professional golfing.

Why aren't there any gay male professional golfers in major tournaments like the U.S. Open and why is it that straight professional female golfers complain about all the lesbians in their tournaments?

What is it with gay golfers? Don't they exist, or is it just such a well kept secret that no one wants to talk about it? It's amazing to me that throughout the entire history of men's golfing, I have never heard anyone say, or even allude in the tabloids to any male, gay golfers in the national standings. One would think that names like Gene Sarazen or Gary Player might raise a question or two, but neither are even remotely gay.

It is even more puzzling since I know they exist. I have played golf with gay men who love the game and are very good at it. They have never commented about the fact that they are gay men chasing little white balls all over the course. They never seemed conscious of that little innuendo. I won't even comment on the clothes the hetero golfers wear, even though those shades and pastel colors permeate most courses and stand out like walking flowers on the greens. Excuse me, but anyone who has ever watched someone like Jesper Panavick play a round with his cap brim turned up and the phenomenal clothes that he wears, has really got to question if he is gay or not, until his beautiful, blonde wife shows up.

Men's golfing is portrayed in the media as a family thing, which may be contributing to the speculation that there may, out of over 850 world ranked professional players, be at least one or two gay men, but they had better not say anything about it. What is with only hetero men holding up that silver cup at the Opens and giving it a big sloppy kiss, like they have invented a new way of having sex with a silver lining?

The strangest thing about it to me is that there are so many gay-compatible things about golf that it seems impossible that gay men simply could not resist the sport.

It's competitive, but in such a nice and non confrontational way.

I know that playing with "clubs" and being in them is not the same thing, but to a gay man playing a sport, clubs being such an essential part of it, must at least seem a bit familiar.

The cute golf carts are so nice and so quiet, all you need is a little Enya playing while you are teeing off, to make it an uplifting experience.

The clothes I have already mentioned.

The golf bags, whether hanging from the back of a cart or being dragged across the course or even carried by the player are remarkably diverse and you can hang almost anything from them and they look spectacular, almost artistic.

Quite often, a round of golf could be considered a social outing for gay men, even more than just a game.

Golf tournaments could be such a great fundraiser, with a party after in the clubhouse.

All this going for it, but in the history of golf in America and even abroad, there has never been any mention or even a whisper of a gay man winning a golf tournament.

On the other hand . . . I was watching the Golf Channel a few months ago and the program 19th Hole, when they mentioned in the surliest of terms that a Transsexual woman had just won the Women's World Driving Championship this year. The venom was almost dripping from the mouth of the announcer who broadcast the news. His face turned red and this look of hate and disgust became imprinted on his face as he stated that there should be rules against such a thing and that "it" should have never qualified for that competition in the first place.

I jumped up and was so mad when I heard and saw this, that I got on my laptop and sent an email to the show asking them why they were so abusive. I never got an answer.

Is it that gay male golfers who might qualify for a U.S. Open are afraid that when they are going to tee off, they swing back and hear someone standing on the side say "fag" or "queer" and they slice their ball into the woods? Gee, I think the game would be a lot more entertaining if there were a few queens in the stands and when Tiger sank a 40 footer, they all stood up and shouted "you go girl."

So there are obviously some really big areas of discrimination in men's golfing that still need to be addressed. The big question is who is going to break these taboos and be the first openly out gay man in history to win a major tournament or even in the mix? Instead of kissing his wife on the 18 green, he grabs the cup and gives his legally married male spouse, dragging their two adopted children across the green to congratulate him with a big hug and kiss. Then they all walk of together to the scorers table to turn in his winning score card.


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About men's golfing -- it's a good question, although golf is way less popular with amateur gay male players than basketball, flag football and softball, among others. Some liberal gay men are turned off by the stuffy traditional atmosphere of the sport. I've written about all this in my LGBT sports history series at Outsports.com.

About lesbians in women's pro golf -- they have been inching out, little by little, for decades, ever since Babe Didrickson toured openly with her partner in her later years. Today the out women players don't run into big homophobia in the sport (even though a few straight players do complain bitterly). Palm Springs has even admitted openly than billions of lesbians attend the Dinah every year.

Transgender players are traveling a rockier road. As usual, the U.S. is behind the curve, compared to a few other countries, like England and Denmark, where the way is being opened for them to play. I'm glad you protested. More of us need to do so.

Yea!! You were the first to bring up Babe Didrickson AND the lesbian Dinah Shore festival palm springs extravaganza.

So what. Gay men haven't "paved the way" in pro-golf. Lezzies did it. Oh. And let's not forget tennis. Navratilova and Billie Jean King.

You already know all this... but the newcomers might want to be reminded.

Girrrrrrrrrrrrls play sports too.

Interesting. If memory serves me, golfing was once part of Gay games.

I often point out to my elderly golfing neighbor that I’m too young for golf. I’m only 68.

Lynn David Lynn David | June 27, 2009 11:40 PM

Is Nick Watney gay? Read some speculation on that recently.

But from the prior decade there was one out gay player on the PGA tour as I remember, Frank Lickliter II. And yet I can find nothing about it on the web.

Congratulations on your first "Guest Blogger" article on Bilerico. Two or three more like this and maybe Bil will make you a Contributor. I'm sure it will be long before you reach 25 articles, which I heard someone has reached without being made one.

Great article!

Angela Brightfeather | June 28, 2009 3:17 AM

Well, I know this is a bit of a puff piece, but after the last few weeks of constant political brain fusion, I thought it might be good to lighten things up a bit with a non-sensible act of curiosity that has been bothering me for some time.

Actually, while watching the US Open last week at Beth Page Black, I kept on asking myself why, after all the years that golf has been played, there just isn't any record of any gay man reaching the ranks of the pros? It seems impossible in these days of gay men playing such important and pivotal and out roles in society that golf seems to be the only major sport I can think of that is void of a gay champion.

Well it just goes to show you that there are a few things in these times that might be new and exciting to look forward to.

Angela, I've met a couple golfers who've done time on the PGA tour, one of who's mouth got him in some notorious hot water a few years ago. PGA golfers, according to John Feinstein, are by and large very conservative politically; they are independent businessmen, like the Bushist "tax cuts for the wealthy", and many are fundamentalist Christians. My observations bear that out, and it's a pretty tight community; I would also bet that the PGA tries to keep a lid on anything controversial. We all know that many country clubs still have trouble with color, even after Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, and Lee Trevino. Still, you'd have to believe that at least some would be gay, and one might wonder how many crossdress behind closed doors after a bad round or before leading a final round, as a stress reliever.

Of course, the LPGA has had lesbian rumors flying for years, hasn't it?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 28, 2009 7:59 AM

Angela, interesting article and that is saying a lot for me as I have never played golf. Just being on the course with others I consider it to be a waste of useful space :)

I do recall a woman I knew who sold her successful company to a competitor and was herself included on the board of the buyer as part of the deal. This involved her moving from Texas to Wisconsin and her experience with her customers was part of her appeal. She left because she was disgusted by the way they would decide something at a board meeting only to change it while "the boys" were out golfing...no, she had not been invited. And no, she would not put up with it. She was either involved in the decision making, or she wasn't, and would not allow either her gender or lack of an invite to a sport she had little interest in alter her point of view.

Even though I know ordinary folk (right conservatives) who are golfers there is an elitism associated with the sport that I cannot support. It is an expensive game. I would agree with everything Polar has said and more. Whether it is politicians, gangsters or other business leaders golf is their game of choice. I choose not to know about it, but I am devoid of interest in any sports or popular culture, so I am a really strange Gay man. :)

Wonderful piece, Angela.

I've known a few gay golfers, but just around city courses. I do recall a trans* convention, the Texas T-Party, which had the option of a round of golf with the girls, and it was very, very well attended (and everyone looked fabulous, too).

Great article, Angela!

While I personally don't follow golf, I think this is really an issue about pro sports in general. You see women's pro basketball players coming out as lesbian, but when was the last time you saw a male pro athlete come out as gay during his career? The few male pro athletes in the major pro sports that I know of who have come out as gay have always done so once they'd retired.

I think it's directly related to homophobia on the part of men. Remember how they treated Magic Johnson when he announced he had HIV? He was forced into retirement because many of his fellow players refused to play with him.

Conversely, when female pro athletes have come out there's usually been a little buzz about it in the media, but it usually doesn't have much lasting power as a story in the media. Martina Navratalova is a good example of this. She came out, it was in the media for a little while, and then media interest just faded and she continued on with her pro career pretty much as she had before.

Who Cares,
the problem is that the gay community are always trying to shove there life styles on non gay. I care less if your a pole smoker. Just keep it out my life. I have that right to not approve....So if the gay community would stop violating my rights to dis agree , they would get a lot more done on capital Hill.

To Who Cares: Gay people have straight "lifestyles" shoved at them 24/7, 365 days a year for their entire lives. I can't watch a TV show, watch a movie, read a book, walk in my neighborhood, go to a concert, go on a vacation, shop, etc., etc., without being constantly bombarded by heterosexuality. But you're offended by a few seconds of homosexuality, to deny someone besides yourself the ability to see their own lives reflected in the media or the world at large?

You've got to be kidding me!!!

It's predominately straight men & Lesbians of the two genders who are the most enthusiastic about it.
Yes straight women compete & play socially more than Gay men but percentage wise it's young women playing professionally for a shorter time than the straight men and, socially, straight women make up a tiny fraction compared to straight men & lesbians.
There is nothing gentile about golf as you mention.
The clothes are either loud & garish or expensive (two aggressive displays of power). And that's just what golf is - a display of power / control / dominance during an expedition in the wilderness. The full golf swing is powerful & capable of sending a projectile on average 270 to 350 yards. Shorter clubs tear large patches of soil & grass out of the ground from purposely violent swings. Each player bringing 14 weapons along the game had to evolve into using rules & etiquette or some players would never make it back to the club house.
It may look like a relaxed swing on the TV but it's taken those players most of theirs lives to that point to perfect a swing that only appears this way. Golf takes as much dedication in practice to play professionally as learning to play classical piano (daily practice up to 6 hours. Only if you stop playing or practicing for a week it's like loosing a years worth of memory and can take weeks to 'get back in the zone'.
People have some strange notion of 'Country Club' golf scenes stuck in their head. After you have played a few years you then understand that is a rare vibe while there playing.
Do yourself a favor any do a google satellite search above your city for golf courses of every kind. Your will be astonished at how many there are right around you.
As for why gay men are not better represented in the sport / activity of golf I really can't say - I'm just phucking grateful as I find them supremely annoying. But when we play with even the butchest of Lesbians it's a blast.