[Editor's Note: Steve Publicover is a middle-aged gay man living with his partner of nine years in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia, with three cats, four ducks and a pond.
Having grown up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, Steve worked for fifteen years in the non-profit field of consumer credit education and advocacy and has written newsletters, educational materials and numerous articles for a variety of publications.
Steve moved to the Roanoke, Va. region fifteen years ago and is now the chief cook and bottle washer of "Rev. Steve's Cyber-Pulpit", Roanoke,Virginia's only locally produced blog serving the valley's LGBT community.]
One of the great things about being gay and going through the whole coming out process is that you no longer have to pretend to like sports.
With the World Out Games in Copenhagen wrapping up this weekend and London's Gay Sports Day scheduled to take place at the end of August, I've realized lately that I have to expand my mind a little if I want to write anything about them. It's sort of like trying to find your way around Beijing without knowing the language and not having a Mandarin to English dictionary.
Growing up sharing a bedroom with my two jock brothers and their smelly sneakers and sweat socks helped me understand one essential truth about myself: I hate sports.
I hate the phony competitiveness, the "I'm better than you" swagger, the mob mentality of sporting events and the fact that I was just never good at sports.
In high school, I hated having to take gym class and being forced to take part in competitions that I could never win. I hated being judged by "their" standards.
Like most of my gay brethren, I only watch the Olympics for the hot guys in Speedos and the homoerotic contortions of the male gymnasts. Greco-Roman wrestling is pretty hot too, although being a traditionalist, I've always thought they should do it naked, the way the gods intended.
From what I hear, there is a small segment of our community that actually excels in athletics. I don't know any of those people personally, but like Big-foot, the Lock Ness Monster and Gay Republicans, there have been so many reported sightings that I try to keep an open mind about it.
I'm not talking about Women's Tennis, the LPGA or WNBA. Women's sports, like FedEx and UPS, could not exist without our strong lesbian sisters. But the notion that any proud gay man would willingly take part in any sporting event other than figure skating just boggles my mind. (I mean really, with those outfits, if you take away the blades, it's just another drag show.)
I get the whole "we deserve the right to be out and proud in the sports world" thing, but like religion, I don't want to be part of any organization that doesn't want me.
(Spiritually, I'm more of an independent contractor.)
I suppose for some gay men there is a need to prove to straight men that we're not the weak little faeries they think we are. I can only guess that queer athletes have a need to prove that not only are they as good as the the straight jocks are, but gay jocks can even beat them at their own game.
Looking back, maybe I could have tried harder at sports, but why bother? Even as a kid I knew in my heart of hearts that gym class and sports in general, were bullshit. I knew instinctively that my big brother's daily workouts and hormone-fueled arrogance were nothing than more his attempt to hide his sensitive side. And I always knew that my strength was that I embraced that part of myself, while he was ashamed of it in himself.
If it weren't for that, we might have been friends.
Gym class was only one hour out of my school day, but I hated every minute of it. For that one class, the jocks ruled. But when they were in my arena, Art class, which they only took as an "easy credit", I kicked their asses every day and that was enough for me.
My sweet revenge was knowing that even though those dumb jocks could humiliate me on the playing field, at the end of class I'd get to see them all naked in the locker room.
Whoa! I think I get it now!