Daily Archives: August 25, 2008

Surely the facts are not in dispute.

Did you click the link? Did you see the dives? Did you see the crowd? Did you see Matt and Lachlin? Wasn’t it just amazing? AfterElton.Com certain thinks so, and so does Towleroad, Joe My God, and even Firedoglake.

But if you were only watching NBC, you got nothing!:

“Saturday, Aug 23, 2008 5:02 pm EDT
Openly gay diver wins gold
By Maggie Hendricks

Diver Matthew Mitcham, the only openly gay male athlete in the Beijing Olympics, won gold in the 10m platform. He beat Chinese favorite Zhou Luxin by 4.8 points, preventing China from sweeping gold in diving events. Mitcham is the first Aussie to win diving gold since 1924, but that’s not the only thing that makes him a trailblazer.
He is hardly the first gay athlete to compete but he is one of the first to be out while competing. American diver Greg Louganis did not share his orientation until his diving career was over. To Mitcham, he is just living his life as a gay man and as a diver, and there is nothing extraordinary about that:
“Being gay and diving are completely separate parts of my life. Of course there’s going to be crossover because some people have issues, but everyone I dive with has been so supportive.”
Though he wants to be known as more than a gay man, the LGBT community is proud of their star. At OutSports, a sports Web site that focuses on the gay community, his win is front-page news. The Web site brings up a good question — will NBC mention Mitcham’s orientation during tonight’s broadcast?
To Mitcham, that doesn’t seem to matter. He has gold, and has reached his goals: “I’m happy with myself and where I am. I’m very happy with who I am and what I’ve done.”
UPDATE: NBC did not mention Mitcham’s orientation, nor did they show his family and partner who were in the stands. NBC has made athletes’ significant others a part of the coverage in the past, choosing to spotlight track athlete Sanya Richards’ fiancee, a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and Kerri Walsh’s wedding ring debacle.”

Yes, NBC — which can’t give us enough about Michael Phelps, his family and his friends, has nothing at all to say about Matthew Mitcham. Of course that’s partly because he’s an Australian and as we all know only Americans matter.

It’s the Law!

But Compulsory Heterosexualkty is the law too. Ad while there was passing press mention of Mitcham’s overcoming a serious bout of depression it didn’t mention why — the love of his boyfriend Lachlan Fletcher.

But then it’s just diving, about which the “liberal” Salon expresses only contempt.

Meanwhile others in the world of sport Have not let the Mitcham snub pass unnoticed.

“I’m not sure how many of you saw the men’s 10m diving finals the other night, but it was pretty awesome. Chinese diver Zhou Luxin held what appeared to be an insurmountable lead even after botching his final dive.

It didn’t look good for Australian Matthew Mitcham, who essentially needed to be perfect on his final dive to win gold. But Mitcham was, burying an incredibly difficult dive that left hardly a ripple on the water as he dove in.

It was, without question, one of the most clutch moments by any athlete you will ever see, anywhere.

But what also made the night unique is that Mitcham is the only openly gay male athlete in the Olympics. And despite NBC continually showing shots of Mitcham’s Australian cheering section, which included Mitcham’s partner, NBC never said a word about it.

Normally, I don’t have a problem with that. There’s not really any need to show an athlete’s significant other during Olympic events, whether the athlete is gay, straight, or whatever.

But the problem is that NBC continually made a point to show many athletes’ significant others during the Olympics, and mention what kind of a relationship they were in.

We heard about Misty May-Treanor being married to Marlins catcher Matt Treanor. We also heard about track athlete Sanya Richards’ fiancee, Aaron Ross of the New York Giants. We heard about a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and about Kerri Walsh losing her wedding ring in the sand during a match. And we even heard about non-spotlight athletes and their relationships. Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic won the first Olympic gold of the Games in the women’s 10m air rifle and was shown hugging and kissing her American husband who is her coach and a member of the U.S. Men’s shooting team.
My point is this. NBC went out of its way to let us know about the relationships – even showing us kisses – of a number of bigtime and smalltime athletes. But all the athletes were significant in some way.

So was Mitcham. He prevented the Chinese from sweeping gold in diving. His story is truly one of the best of the Games.

But it was also important that we knew he was gay. That’s because it is incredibly rare for any athlete to come out even after their playing days are over. And when an athlete is openly gay while competing, it not only deserves attention, it deserves celebration.

The reason why is because the sports world is, for the most part, an incredibly macho arena. And many people, including both athletes and fans, have the mistaken belief that you can’t be gay and be an athlete. Letting viewers know that Mitcham is gay would’ve, in my mind, helped more people – athletes and fans – realize that any individual, regardless of their sexual orientation, can be a great competitor and an Olympic champion.

I know not everyone would have been pleased to hear about Mitcham’s sexual orientation, and some would have argued that it would have been an invasion of his privacy to inform us of that information. But just think about this for a moment. Would the people that likely would have had those misgivings in hearing about Mitcham’s sexual orientation have had the same reaction had Mitcham been straight?

My guess is not at all.

NBC missed a chance last night to help break down barriers that desperately need to come down. And for that, they should be admonished.

As for Mitcham, hopefully his Olympic triumph can help us all – fans and athletes – become more tolerant of people of all sexual orientations in professional sports and in life.”

Indeed.

So Take it away boys!