Guest Blogger

WTF is up with "Gay Sports?"

Filed By Guest Blogger | August 01, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living
Tags: gay sports, gym, out games, sports, World Outgames

[Thumbnail image for steve 082007.jpgEditor'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!

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I think the thing to remember is that human beings have far too much of a tendency to stick each other into ill-fitting boxes. People come in all shapes and sizes: straight men who prefer watching musicals to muscle-bound action flicks, lesbians who would prefer curling up with a novel to playing in a soccer game, gay men who prefer scaling cliff faces to throwing parties, and so on. There are jocks, opera lovers, motorheads, and fashionistas in every group of people. If you are willing to look past widely held notions of what should and should not exist, the world's finer details pop out in all their glory.

I get the comedy aspect of what you're writing, but c'mon. Athleticism isn't always about atavistic overcompensation, squashing the other guy, or sublimating homosexual desire into sports. Some of us just like playing the game the much as you like art because we like sports as much as you like art. The reason we do it with other men is the same reason you share your art with other people: because we thrive off the kinship and community. It motivates and inspires us.

I agree sports aren't for everyone and that there are jock meatheads who ruin the sport with their aggression, but the gay games go past simple recollections of disappointed athletic experiences and superficial appreciation of the male form to something much older: a spirit of cooperation and competition between men that's not just about who comes out on top. For a lot of athletes, it's about testing your own limits, something that you as an artist should be able to appreciate.

Well, it does help to let go of some resentment over being a weakling in the physical arena instead of pretentiously psychoanalyzing some imagined weakness about your oppressors to make you feel better. If the gay jocks desperately try to prove masculinity, you desperately try to hide vulnerability with all these rationalizations.

The way I see it, if gay men were not meant to be athletic, I'm sure they would be physically composed differently from their straight peers.

I mean, taking your logical path, why would black people like football, when in previous times the institutions treated them so horrendously and didn't want them?

Aidan Tharp Aidan Tharp | August 1, 2009 12:29 PM

I am just amazed at the amount of messed up assumptions. I can see the comedic touch but are you kidding me? Wow.

Rev. Steve | August 1, 2009 2:10 PM

Hmmmm. I seem to have hit a nerve.


This is really all negative with only a touch of comedy, c'mon lighten up dude. There's more to the world than stereotypes. Likely the stereotypes are hammering into your head, block them out and use them ONLY for the sake of comedy.

Wow as a former pro competitor who is in a Hall of Fame I have to say that I am a bit offended by some of this.
So you hated gym class, actually so did I. I never was attracted to team sports but when they would let me wrestle box or fence I did well.
Your statement implying that my achievements were based on some twisted desire to prove to straight guys that I was not weak or that I am macho enough is insulting. In fact, that got proved to them more after the competitions than on the mat. And there was never any attempt to hide my sensitive side as you put it.
BTW I have a lesbian cousin who works for UPS and was never into sports so I am a bit irritated about that whole set of assumptions.
Bad call Bill, even being willing to publish this pile. Should have been shoveled out of the stalls while it was still steaming.
Yes you did hit a nerve, were you aiming or just shooting with you mind closed?

and then there are some of us who didn't even recognize our gay genes until later on. i loved sports from an early childhood - all of them (basketball, football, baseball, soccer, track & field, etc.). i suppose i could see an inkling of my leanings in the way i got so much enjoyment out of hitting other guys when playing football, but at an early age, and in my generation, that wasn't even a topic to consider.

i still play basketball - love the game dearly - and i'm not bad for 60 - pretty good actually. i have to express a new enjoyment for guys like John Amachea (sp?), Greg Louganis et al for enjoying sports while acting completely contrary to the old stereotype of gay men. obviously, as noted above, a lot of the women's sports would be nothing without our lesbian sisters.

if only i hadn't subdued my recognition of how glorious it was to be in a locker room full of men back in junior high and high school, i would have enjoyed my gayness for far longer and far greater, i think.

I thought it was pretty funny. I was never any good at sports either. Or at watching sports. Who can remember so many players, especially if they keep changing teams? Why do people favor one team over another? It's just wearing different colors.

Anyway, I would have a good sense of humor about it if someone made fun of musical theater. Or Barbra Streisand concerts. Or males who know Beyonce's entire "Single Ladies" dance routine.

Thank you, gmcfly. At last somebody gets it. Making fun of stereotypes is not the same as promoting them.

As the Divine Miss M says, "f 'em if they can't take a joke."

FYI: Due to a problem in the editing software, some of the parapraphs were rearranged and out of context. Dana has since fixed the problem.

Perhaps a re-read, with everything in proper context would reveal the true, humorous intent. Some may still not think it's funny, but you can't please everyone.

While in high school, I disliked gym class because
I was picked on and spent alot of time sitting on the bench because I was not picked to be on a team.
In college, first semester gym class was a co-ed exercise class. Second semester one could pick
the type of gym class you wanted to take; male
only, female only or co-ed. Second semester I
also took a co-e class. This helped give me a more
positive point of view of gym, sports and exercise
in general. My Partner and I power walk every morning. I also use a gym a our community center
as therapy for a broken shoulder.

Pshaw. Sports suck. Give me a book, the internet or even yard work any day of the week before organized sports.

But - wow - how many folks were irritated by this post. It's not that deep; it's just comedy making fun of stereotypes. I'm thinking Steve hit a nerve... Still, it's interesting to see how many of our sporting brethren are up in arms and how few of us are in here admitting we've got no interest in sports either. I assumed the post would get a bunch "You tell 'em," or "Amen, sister!" comments and that would be it. LOL

Goes to show you what I know, eh?

Ha! Bil himself has fallen prey to this insidious posting system, his double-post a remnant of it ;).

And forgive me, but the whole "they've got something to prove" part had no comedy in it. Either that, or you forgot to inject facetious tone and diction similar to your previous bits.

I have no idea what you're talking about, of course.

(Problem fixed, btw. Thanks for that!)

Rev Steve .. Just a note to say that I loved your entry!

I hated, and I mean hated gym class during middle and high school. I even took an extra elective to get out of taking gym.

I have never understood football, baseball or even golf for that matter. If other people enjoy those activities, more power to them! Just don't expect me to attend, or be excited about what you are talking about.

Thanks again Steve!

Tom Cotner | August 2, 2009 8:07 AM

Finally! Someone actually says out loud what a great number of us (not all, mind you) think about the obsession with sports - either professional or half-vast, as many of us perform it.
As early in my life as I can remember, I've had a negative attitude toward sports and those who promote it -- ever since, when I was but 9 years old, and my father decided we needed to play catch out in the yard -- and I went along, as it was a direct order -- but the moment I tossed the first ball to him - he yelled "oh, you throw like a girl!" and went into the house. I've never thrown a baseball since, nor do I ever intend to. When people ask me about such and such game by such and such team I always say now "I dunno - I'm not an athletic supporter." I've never regretted not having been into sports -- I played in the band, which satisfied the "athletic" requirement in high school -- somehow wiggled out of the athletic requirement in college -- and, at 73,am hale and hearty, and not at all missing any of the "social development skills" that participating in athletics is supposed to bring.
Yep, I'm proud not to be an Athletic Supporter!
Thanks for the article, Steve.

I appreciated this posting because I'm another gay man who has always hated sports. Perhaps your points regarding gay men who enjoy sports are a bit overblown but obviously your comments were in jest, and I found them amusing because they highlight much of what I think when I'm in camp mode.

For those gay men who did and do enjoy sports, I guess it's impossible to relay the emotional distress that gym classes can hurl at gay men. I 'threw a ball like a girl,' I was always the worst at the strength tests, which were always done in front of peers and the scale of failure always announced publicly (I couldn't do even one chin up--luckily, the other gay boy in the class--we came out to each other at our 20th class reunion--couldn't do one either).

I guess I'm interested in understanding why gay man and lack of physical ability (at least in terms of coordination and all the rest of the sports stuff) often, though not always, go together.

I would still expect that more gay men dislike than like sports; and more gay men are athletic klutzes than are proficient athletes.

I think that it's the obsession with competition that is annoying. All in all, "it's only a game". Competition may be inherent in some team sports, but bad manners and cruel pressure on their children by some Little League (etc) parents puts a bad taste in many people's mouths, including those who might otherwise enjoy non-competitive (except with own self) activities such as running or swimming, or friendly low-stakes competition in tennis, running meets, etc where the socializing is more important than the status.

Of course, I hated the pecking order of obligatory primary and middle school sports sessions, what with the popularity polling of team selection. I don't do "sports" now, and consider walking, hiking, jogging to be "exercise".