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Of Men And Women And Olympic Orientation

17 July 2008 | glrfcentral
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It’s that season again, when the straight and gay media go crazy over ‘out’ Olympic athletes. They are heralded for their courage in the face of public and team scrutiny. They are lauded for their public statements criticizing public officials or public policy. When a national rowing team roster was announced recently, we spotted a couple of familiar names. Undoubtedly there are more ‘family-iar’ rowers, on many teams around the world. Should we be especially proud of gay and lesbian Olympic rowers? The quick answer might be yes, because these athletes supposedly have had to endure super closeted lives, hiding their feelings and enduring the agony of living a lie. The real answer is that in today’s sports environment, most everyone on the team probably already knows and doesn’t care. The real focus is on winning, something that every athlete has had to prove every day and every hour for months if not years. The agony for many rowers, gay and straight, came in the last six months, when the Olympic lineups for each country’s rowing team were announced. For those who didn’t make the cut, thoughts of could have, should have, and would have flash through their minds as they compare and measure themselves against others and wonder why they weren’t selected. We doubt very much that being gay or lesbian is at the forefront of those thoughts.


As the rowers ramp up for the Olympics in these final days, they’re rowing upwards of 60,000 meters a day, and they are on the water three times a day. The last thing they are thinking about is their own sexual orientation or someone else’s. Their thoughts are a mixture of self-criticism, team criticism, extreme body awareness, hunger, thirst, and sleep.


These rowers, selected or not, have sacrificed their lives, their families, their relationships, and their careers for a chance to win. If you’re a rower, you know the hours of erg time invested, the endless pieces on the water in freezing rain and howling wind, and the physical pain to push harder in the last 500 meters on the course. Lets give everyone the same attention, the same respect, and the same awe for their Olympic orientation.


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