For better and for diverse

Jul 31, 2012, 07:28 IST | Hemal Ashar

Gay issues are causing a flutter at the Olympics, even the opening ceremony touched upon them

>> Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) issues are firing up the Olympics even as 'out' athletes insist that the focus, the cameras, the media and the tweets should be on sport rather than orientation.

World audience: the kiss that was shown on television. Pic/ Wikipedia

Yet, who can keep things straight (pun intended), when first off, Britain decides to toss its fuddy duddy image and says we're-trying to keep up with the 21st century buddy and go in for an opening ceremony which people claim was distinctly leftist, with one viewer saying it straight (why do we keep going to the straight bit?) up - a lot of “multi-cultural crap.”

Artistic director Danny Boyle, the same of Slumdog Millionaire fame, though sent rainbow hearts flying across the stadium with a first for an Olympics opening ceremony. In a wink-and-you-miss-it move, Boyle slipped in a clip of a lesbian kiss in the digital age section of the Opening ceremony. So quick was the kiss that most people watching the ceremony did not see it. Yet, for those that did, it left them wondering whether they needed to visit the ophthalmologist the next day.

The London 2012 opening ceremony had a Digital Age segment, which featured two teenagers, a boy and a girl who fell in love via text message. As the two teens kissed, a video on screen showed famous movie and television kisses where a clip from English TV soap, called Brookside was aired showing Beth Jordache (Anna Friel) and Margaret Clemence's (Nicola Stephenson) smooch.

The gay community is now screaming hurray Danny Bo(y)le, not because the kiss was earth-shaking in any way, but on a stage as big as this, with visibility way up there, a gay kiss is well… a gay kiss. More significantly, this kiss had a worldwide audience, including countries in which homosexuality is illegal. 'Coz by the time, the censors may have reached for the scissors the smooch was over. Just one kiss is not going to change the world but then what do they say -- mighty oaks from little acorns grow… which simply means, great things come from small beginnings. This one is for the Kisstory books.

>> It was, go Rapinoe go, for US women's footballer Megan Rapinoe, who came out publicly as a lesbian this year, just before the London Olympics 2012. The US women's soccer team dominated Colombia 3-0 in Glasgow, Scotland, and now appear sailing ahead in the medal hunt.

Out and proud: Glasgow, Strathclyde Region, UNITED KINGDOM: Megan Rapinoe (R) of the US celebrates scoring the first goal against Columbia during the London 2012 Olympic Games women’s football match at Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland, on July 28, 2012. pic/AFP 

Earlier, Rapinoe simply confirmed the buzz swirling around her when she told a journalist, "yes, just for the record I am gay".

Rapinoe, who is in a long-distance relationship with soccer player Sarah Walsh who lives in Australia, said she thought it was an apt time to come out because the London platform is huge and with the publicity bandwagon following the US team, the timing would be perfect. The flaxen-haired midfielder with the large Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) fan base knows timing is everything, on the field and yes, when coming out of the closet too.

>> Never mind that these Olympics have 21 officially ‘out’ athletes (numbers up from Athens and Beijing), the fact is, women, gay or straight, are still being targeted by people who have their mind in the mothballs.

Zoe zeal: Zoe Smith shows the weigh to go in these supposedly evolved times 

Reports say that a teenage woman weightlifter representing Great Britain, Zoe Smith, has had to endure comments on the Internet saying she looked like a ‘bloke’ and a ‘lesbian’. Zoe has told the twerps to “toss it” (how English really) and traded insults with the haters and baiters. The use of ‘lesbian’ is particularly disturbing as it is used as an insult. Something the LGBT community needs to think about.

>> Meanwhile for followers of the gaydom, all the statements are not being made on the field. The San Diego Gay & Lesbian Network (SDGLN) says that a gay man carrying the Olympic torch in London, earned spectator approval and applause when he kissed his boyfriend James during his stretch of carrying the torch. Chris Basiurski, who chairs Gay Football Supporters Network in Great Britain, said he would marry James next year. That is what’s called having it all, the Games, the flame and James - not necessarily in that order for Chris.

Compiled by Hemal Ashar

This paper, which has been a supporter of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights, reporting on several gay-specific issues and events in the city, will keep an update of out gay athletes during the Games.

Since the Olympics are a world stage, London 2012 is just one important step in the overall acceptance and changing attitudes to gay people and issues that the world continues to grapple with. The first gay kiss at an Olympics opening ceremony, seamlessly blending in with the digital age theme, a number of LGBT representatives carrying the Olympic torch and a smattering of athletes coming 'out' before the Games, because they felt, as role models, this would be the correct platform to speak, shows that as a society we have come a long way from the days athletes quivered in their sneakers to say they are gay because of ramifications.

Having said that, it would be naïve though to believe that there are just 21 gay athletes at these Games. The others are not out yet. The chasm between India and the West is still sharply defined. We think the day when a top Indian athlete in any sport says that he or she is gay, is still a long time away.

The world is a global village now and nothing exemplifies this more than the Olympics where every nationality, colour and culture doth mix. Maybe, Indians and those of other nationalities can take inspiration from these out athletes. Let’s make it easier for them in our own way, maybe, by showing them role models. We believe the closet is for hangers, not for people. 

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