Monday 21 November 2011

LGBT History Month pre-launch

Tonight at The Oval cricket ground in London the 2012 LGBT History Month will be pre-launched. The theme, as you might have guessed from the venue, is sport.

During 2012 I will be bringing you a special Olympic countdown with the most complete history of lgbt participation in the Olympics – ever! And, as far as I am aware, I will be the first to list all 120 known lgbt Olympians, including one closeted athlete whose identity I couldn’t possibly reveal without his/her permission!

2012 will also be the 30th anniversary of the first Gay Games in San Francisco in 1982. The Gay Games is the biggest multi-sport festival in the world. Over the past 2 years I have been compiling a comprehensive list of Gay Games medallists. The Federation of Gay Games has records of recent games, but not so complete records of the first two in 1982 and 1986. With the help of various biographies, blogs, news reports and research I have come up with a list of over 9,000 individuals who have won medals.

Here’s a taster of the facts, figures and trivia that makes the Gay Games a major part of the worldwide lgbt community.
Notable Medal Winners
Athletics           George Takei, “Star Trek” and “Heroes” actor
Swimming        Rhona Cameron, comedian
Basketball        Esera Tuaolo, American footballer
Basketball        Glenn Burke, baseball player
Athletics           Chuck Palanhuik, author of “Fight Club”
Tennis              James Hormel, US Ambassador to the Netherlands
Ice skating       Joel Mangs, aka gay porn actor Brad Patton
Bodybuilding   Greg Groves, aka gay porn actor Matthew Rush

Olympians at the Gay Games
Tom Waddell, Gay Games founder
Susan McGreivy
Bruce Hayes
Scott Cranham
Mark Chatfield
Peter Prijdekker
Daniel Veatch
Geert Blanchart

Comparison numbers

One concern at the forefront of the work of LGBT History Month will be to raise awareness of homophobia in sport. Even as we welcome elite sportspeople coming out we also question the attitudes of those in sport who criticise them. Nowhere is that bigotry more visible than in football. Two top international footballers came out in 2011, and 6 top footballers said they have no place in football. Nottingham has a notorious reputation as having the most homophobic, racist, abusive, bigot the sport has ever produced – manager Brian Clough – put on a pedestal and worshipped as a hero.

Recently, the head of FIFA himself, Sepp Blatter, opened his mouth without thinking first and revealed his racist thinking. He alleges to supports the campaign to rid football of homophobia, but hasn’t actually done anything about it.

My friend and guest blogger Narvel Annable has these words to say on those like Blatter who haven’t dragged themselves out of the 19th century:

The recent controversy over racism in football, hinged on the significance of a handshake. This put me in mind of a parallel incident when I was approached by two Mormons.  They assured me that I was loved by God but my homosexuality was unnatural and unacceptable. I counted with the fact that my sexuality and the host body were one and the same. We came as a package. We could not be separated. Several minutes of heated negotiations ended, as always in these cases, in stalemate.

One of them suggested that we should agree to disagree and offered me his hand. I refused. I explained that accepting such a gesture would condone centuries of ignorance and bigotry. I argued against being a party to religious prejudice. A handshake would not deal with the root cause of the problem which is called homophobia. When the Mormons renounce and apologise for their medieval beliefs and cruel conduct, at that point, I will gladly shake a Mormon hand. 

Homophobes and racists should look to the example of Sepp Blatter who gave a fulsome and gracious apology when made aware of his hurtful comments.

Narvel Annable

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