- February 2022
Team LGBTQ entered the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing with more members than any previous Winter Games. Outsports has counted 36 out athletes from 14 different countries in multiple sports.
But what if these athletes were a country themselves, flying the rainbow flag and blaring Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” for their national anthem?
Team LGBTQ would have finished these Winter Olympics ranked 12th in the medal standings, just ahead of Italy and Japan.
A little over six months ago, basketball star Sue Bird carried the American flag in the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. Yesterday speedskater Brittany Bowe carried Old Glory in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.
Bowe replaced bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, who'd tested positive for COVID.
That's the story, anyway. I suspect there's really just a tacit understanding in the American camp these days that the flagbearer should be a lesbian.
- December 2021
It's the last day of 2021.
This lousy year began with then-President Donald Trump dispatching his yahoos to the Capitol; I'll never get over the figurative and literal assault on democracy that followed. The pandemic plagued the country and the world the entire blessed year. Inflation hit. The climate changed. The U.S. withdrew chaotically from Afghanistan. Billionaires blasted themselves into space, and alas, came back.
In LGBTQ news, 2021 saw more transgender people murdered in this country than ever before.
I wouldn't blame Baby New Year if he chose to crawl back into the womb.
But the year wasn't a total washout. Looking through the queer lens, I was thrilled that male football, hockey, soccer and baseball players came out, and pleased that "Dancing WIth the Stars" included a female couple and its British equivalent had a male duo. Trans and non-binary folks competed at the Olympics. A male country star came out, and as far as I know, Dolly Parton didn't even have to push him to do it.
In terms of a person of the year for our community, there are many options, but I'm going with rapper and singer Lil Nas X. His music video showing him sliding to hell on a pole and giving Satan a lapdance set the tone early in 2021. All year he was not just ubiquitous, but an unapologetic gay Black man.
And those Uber Eats ads he made with Elton John felt like gay history encapsulated. It's been quite a journey from the Yellow Brick Road to Old Town Road.
So what will 2022 bring? I think it's fair to say expectations are low. After the planet grappled with the Delta and Omicron variants in 2021, my hope is 2022 won't force us to learn the entire Greek alphabet.
Nobody would benefit from that. Not even Greeks.
- September 2021
Over the summer, Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.
So he was already making history as the first openly gay NFL player to appear in a regular-season game when he stepped on the field during "Monday Night Football." But in a Hollywood-esque turn of events, Nassib forced a fumble in overtime that led to his team's game-winning touchdown.
I think it must be said here and now that any athlete who comes out going forward won't be expected to be the hero of the next game. Announcing your orientation to the whole world is a scary affair. After you come out, you're a winner if you can simply remember which sport you play.
Last week minor-leaguer Bryan Ruby became the only active professional baseball player to come out. In July Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop announced he's gay, making the 19-year-old the first NHL player, active or retired, to come out. In June Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders became the first active NFL player to come out.
What on earth are they putting in Gatorade these days?
- August 2021
While the Olympics were unfolding, Russians fumed on state-run TV over the presence of openly gay and transgender athletes in Tokyo. One male talk show host wore a wig and mocked transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard before calling trans folks "psychopaths." On another talk show, a guest who's a member of the Russian parliament, said he was "disgusted" by gay and transgender people. Pointing to an image of Hubbard, he declared, "We stand opposed to all this smut and perversion, strongly opposed."
I'd like to know the Russian word for "irony," since all this moral indignation comes from the country that was officially banned from the Tokyo Games due to its penchant for stuffing its athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.
Russia: home of state-sponsored doping and state-sponsored dopes.
We've entered a new era. The NBC announcers for the Olympic women's basketball competition spoke freely about Diana Taurasi's wife and son, and how nervous Breanna Stewart was proposing to her girlfriend. During the men's diving, the announcers highlighted Tom Daley's husband and son, and the fact that Jordan Windle was raised by a single gay man.
Human-interest stories have always been a facet of Olympic coverage. I was pleased to see that this included the reality of gay lives, and I award NBC a bronze medal for its efforts.
I award NBC a gold medal for choosing skater Johnny Weir to co-host the closing ceremonies. I assume the network picked Weir to appeal to a younger audience, but it was a risky choice, what with his singular designer outfit, mile-high pompadour and mammoth Olympic-rings hair clip. Weir is undeniably more of a flamer than the Olympic cauldron.
- July 2021
The U.S. Olympic softball team plays for the gold on Wednesday against Japan. It's probably a good thing the opponent isn't Mexico.
I can imagine Chidester sliding into second and taking her fiancee out. To which Urtez might later respond, "If I ever see your spikes again, you're doing the dishes for the next 60 years."
Outsports has alerted me to something extra to look for when I watch the Tokyo Olympics' opening ceremonies later today: six out LGBTQ flag bearers.
Argentina, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, the U.S. and Venezuela chose queer athletes to lead their teams into the stadium.
I wonder what Howard Cosell would say?
- June 2021
In a video from his home in Pennsylvania, Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib came out yesterday. He's the first active NFL player to come out as gay.
Boy, those of us who monitor LGBTQ firsts in sports have been waiting for this moment, when an active pro football player would get up the gumption to cross that macho line.
Touchdown. End-zone dance. We're going to Disney World.
- May 2021
The WNBA season is about to start, and I'm worried.
My team, the Seattle Storm, is the defending champion. Last fall, Storm point guard Sue Bird became engaged to soccer star Megan Rapinoe, and just recently Storm forward Breanna Stewart successfully popped the question to her girlfriend, Spanish hoopster Marta Xargay.
Will Bird and Stewart have the required fire in their bellies to repeat as champions now that they're giddy in love?
I tell you, for the first time, I'm questioning whether same-sex marriage was such a hot idea.
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