Monday, April 7, 2008

“The Lesbians Are Coming! The Lesbians Are Coming! Everyone To Get From the Street!”

Remember the 1966 comedy, “The Russians Are Coming”? Maybe not, it was a long time ago. A Soviet sub runs aground near a small New England coastal town. The sub captain sends a bunch of Russian sailors ashore to steal a boat so they can try to pull their sub off the sandbar without being detected by the locals. They try to get everyone living in the town off the street by going door-to door pretending to be Americans warning families to hide from hostile Russians who have landed on their shore (This was during the Cold War). They do this in some hare-brained scheme to steal the boat and get their sub back out to sea without being detected or something like that. They knock on doors and try to scare people into hiding by shouting in their limited English, “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! Everyone To Get From the Street!”

In the days leading up to the Final Four the St. Petersburg and Tampa newspapers have each published articles describing large numbers of lesbians descending on the Bay Area for the NCAA women’s final four and the parties that local lesbian entrepreneurs have planned to capitalize on the event. The articles seem to have been modeled on the movie. I remember a similar article in a Cleveland paper last year.

Wild estimates in the paper claim that 75% of the fans are lesbians and that the other 25% are closeted. The Final Four is described as the Lesbian Super Bowl. Are there lots of lesbians in town? Yes. Should this be a big whoop? No. Perhaps a side story, but above the fold as a major story about the Final Four? I don’t think so. The focus should be on the four teams who have made it through the tournament and are here to compete. Some of players are gay and some of them are straight, but this weekend, they are all basketball players, elite athletes who deserve to be celebrated for their athletic achievements. The same goes for the fans: some of us are gay, some of us are straight, and this weekend we sit elbow to elbow in the St. Pete’s Forum to cheer on the teams we support, united by our enjoyment of the games.

I’m trying to image a similar story in a San Antonio paper this week where the men’s final four is, “Alamo Under Siege as Hoards of White Heterosexual Men Descend on the City for Partying and Basketball, Hooters Looks to Cash In on Thirsty Men.” Or how about a story that speculates on why these men are so devoted to watching other men in baggy shorts and tank tops play basketball.

In one of the articles an NCAA spokesperson was quoted, “To say any NCAA championship appeals to a certain percentage of a particular segment of the population, especially without any scientific backing, is without merit. The truth is each tournament appeals to a core group of fans but that core is as diverse as the American population itself.”

Is that a tortured comment or what? I wonder how many people it took to come up with that. If they had to comment at all on these stupid “lesbians are overrunning our city” stories, I wish they could have acknowledged the lesbian fan base and taken the opportunity to state their organizational position on homophobia in sport, discrimination against lesbian coaches, athletes and fans and cited some the initiatives they have undertaken to address these issues. An editorial in an Orlando paper does address this.

In a variation of the words of LGBT activists at pride marches everywhere, “We’re here, we’re queer, we cheer…get used to it.


Carol Anne (aka Scamp) said...

From "Jock Talk" by Roger Brigham, in the [San Francisco] Bay Area Reporter

... Chuck Wynne, an NCAA spokesman at the tournament, said, "From our perspective, this weekend is about basketball, not about social issues. The arena will be sold out with a diverse crowd, most of whom are there because they love the game or follow a certain team."

Oddly enough, the NCAA did not cite any scientific study supporting Wynne's claim. ...

Anonymous said...

LOVE your parting lines; I'm seeing a team promotion T-shirt taking place...

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, I just don't know what to think. The stories run were legitimate, but they were about the businesses--not basketball. They were also pretty fanciful, with those estimates of the percentage of lesbians present.75%? I wish!
I enjoy such articles and find them humorous, but all you have to do is read the comments and OMG how they do stir up people and bring out the ignorant and hateful comments.
Where I cheer, we can look around and have a good idea that the arena is teeming with diversity (it's just not that hard to figure out, 90% of the time) but we're there to CHEER--and sometimes bitch--about the basketball. Go team!