Monday, August 25, 2008

OUR GAY GUY IN BEJING, MATTHEW MITCHAM, WINS GOLD! (And why that's important!)

Matthew Diving for GOLD!



Okay, I can't give you the best sports analysis. (Outsports is awesome!)

I can't give you the best sports photos of his dives. (Fox sports has a great photo gallery of Matthew diving, winning, hugging a reporter, hugging his coach, but, unfortunately and not suprisingly... no photo of Matthew hugging his partner!)

I can't even report on Matthew embracing his partner and their both crying for joy after the win. (The Sydney Morning Herald's Jessica Halloran seems to be the only reporter in the mainstream media that talked about Matthew being gay AND winning the gold!)

What I can do is talk about why this win is important. Why we should care.


It's all well and good to root for your countrymen and women, but I've got to say that when it came to the 11 out GLB athletes at this year's Bejing Summer Olympics, for me it was like rooting for my fraternity brothers/sorority sisters. These athletes, these men and women, by virtue of them being OUT and PROUD of who they are, have walked the same path, the same journey in many ways that I have - that many of us have.

And that shared life experience, of growing up in a culture that is largely homophobic, and despite that, being true to yourself and honest about who you are - that forging of character and of spirit in the fire of oppression - a "hazing" or "initiation" of sorts - connects us.

That's not to say that some out gay people aren't jerks, or can't cut you off in traffic.

But there is a common bond, and it's powerful.

That bond explains that while I was happy to watch David Boudia and Thomas Finchum diving for the U.S.A., when Matthew Mitcham of Australia was diving I was really excited - for him, and by extension, for all of us in the GLBTQ and Allies community.

Matthew's being OUT as a gay man, and being the BEST athlete in his sport in the WORLD is pretty heady.

There have been other athletes who have won Olympic gold and then later come out, but Matthew being honest and true and excelling as an athlete at the same time dispels so many myths and rumors.

It PROVES that you can be OUT and it won't ruin your career as an athlete.

It PROVES that you can be true to yourself and still follow your passion for sports.

It PROVES that you can be a gay man, go to the Olympics with your same sex partner, and win GOLD!

Hopefully, Matthew's win will be a beacon for honesty and excellence - what a great combination. And those are truly qualities that all of us could emulate.

What a role model! What a diver! What a fantastic win!

Congratulations, Matthew!

And thank you, for giving Australia, and all of us who appreciate your being out and honest, the GOLD!



GOLD!!!

3 comments:

Lee Wind said...

Outsports has a great roundup of all the out GLB medal winners here:

http://outsports.com/olympics2008/2008/08/23/gay-medal-count/

I love the statistic that 64% of OUT athletes won a medal. I wonder if any countries had that good a success rate?

lots to celebrate,

Lee

Hayden said...

Wasn't that fantastic? I taped the competition and watched it - and rewound the tape to watch Mitcham's final dive and the emotional responses to his four perfect scores at least twice over.

NBC also has a video on their Olympics site of the medal ceremonies. Mitcham was tearful and ecstatic, waving his hands at the crowd to urge the Aussie fans to sing the national anthem with him.

Beside him, Zhou looked absolutely devastated, and I felt badly for him as much as I felt elated for Mitcham. It was an incredible competition. :)

And I lack several hours of sleep, no thanks to the time differences between California and China. Yargh.

Lee Wind said...

Note that I changed this original post by replacing the word "boyfriend" with "Partner," which is how Matthew refers to Lachlan Fletcher.

Lee