>When Gold and Gay Go Together

>NBC, along with most of the rest of the media, provides glimpses of the families (Michael Phelps) of athletes, the soap opera romances (swimmers Federica Pellegrini of Italy and Laure Manaudou of France and their love triangle with Italy’s Luca Martin), love interests (Sanya Richards and her fiancee). They even focused on the lost (and found) wedding ring of Kerri Walsh.

Then along comes the biggest story in diving, where the Chinese aspired to and were expected to go 8 for 8. The divers and the press were not expecting China’s Zhoe Luxin to flub his final dive, nor Australia’s Matthew Mitcham to score perfect 10’s on his final dive to overtake the favorite and win gold in the 10 m platform.

Photo from yahoosports

While NBC announcers seemed in awe at Mitcham’s accomplishment, they completely ignored that he is the only out gay male competitor in the Olympics, they ignored his partner sitting in the stands cheering him on, and they ignored the problems Mitcham had in getting his partner to Beijing.*

Some will say it is not the story, the athletic accomplishment is the story. But because the stereotype of gay men does not involve athletics (although the fantasies of gay men might…but that is a different story), and he breaks that stereotype, it is a story. A big one.

So Matthew, even though you said (in an article in The Advocate), “I just want to be known as the Australian diver who did really well at the Olympics,” and I am sure that the people of Australia are thrilled at your capture of the gold medal, for gay people all over the world you an icon.

Why? You also said “It’s everybody else who thinks it’s special when homosexuality and elite sports go together.” You are right. We do. Thanks for providing.

Here is Matthew, his mom and his partner after the win. Watch and hear how describes the win.

Matthew’s partner Lachlan was able to travel to Beijing courtesy of a $5,000 travel grant from Johnson and Johnson’s Athlete Family Support Program. His mom got there because Sydney gay men and lesbians offered to cover her expenses, according to the Advocate article linked above.

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