Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scary Lesbian Kisses Threaten WNBA Viability

There will be no kiss cams at Washington Mystics games
. What is a kiss cam you ask? It is a ubiquitous practice at NBA games where the TV camera pans the crowd, picks a couple (heterosexual, of course) and projects their image on the Jumbotron. The crowd calls for them to smooch. When they do, everyone cheers. Harmless fun, right?

That is unless the couple consists of two women. Defending the decision to eliminate the Kiss Cam Washington Mystics owner Sheila Johnson cited the “inappropriateness” of women kissing women and the potential for alienating other fans who are largely dads and daughters.

OK, I understand that the WNBA is on somewhat shaky financial ground, especially in this economic climate. I get that WBNA owners and players want to keep fans in the seats. I understand that these factors make them shy away from associating with anything they see as controversial or potentially a threat to the viability of the league.

What I don’t get is the on-going outrageous homophobia and outright disrespect for lesbian fans. What makes me sad is the deep seated internalized homophobia of lesbian fans and players who collude with these heterosexist practices: “We will only be tolerated if we remain invisible, well-behaved, inoffensive, appropriate (and heterosexual people get to decide if we pass this test).”

Hello! Everyone already knows that lesbians play in the WNBA. Everyone already knows that lesbians are a major part of the WNBA fan base. The WNBA needs lesbian players, fans and coaches. If we had a lesbian walk out or boy (girl) cott, the WNBA would really be feeling the hurt. Yet, lesbians in the stands and on the court are expected to be “appropriate” which, of course means shut up, sit down and make yourself as invisible as possible. When will this charade end? Everyone is afraid of offending anyone who is not a lesbian, but apparently lesbians are supposed to take slap in the face after slap in the face and turn the other cheek for more. Enough.

If I had known how powerful a lesbian kiss is, I would have been using it to address some issues I’d like to see changed. Violence against women? Let’s harness the power of lesbian lip locks to scare those perpetrators into submission. A screwed up health care system? Give me some lesbians sucking face, we’ll see if that doesn’t get those guys in congress to act.

I mean, of course, I discovered the power of participating in a lesbian kiss a long time ago, but I had no idea of its potential for affecting hundreds of people at a time by virtue of merely witnessing a good ole dykacious lip smack. If we can clear a basketball arena with just one kiss projected on the Jumbotron, just think what else we could accomplish. Smack! I bet I could always find a parking place. Smack! I could make the Red Sox win. Smoocharoo! I get a place at the front of the line at the bank. Pucker up, baby! I can silence those rude cell phone users in public places – all by deploying the power of my lovely, luscious, lavender, lesbian lips.

I call on all my Sapphic sisters! Rise up! Lick those weapons of mass affection on your face. Pucker up and change the world. Apparently, we’ve been given greater gifts than we ever imagined. Let’s canoodle the world into equality and justice.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Documentary about Lesbian and Gay High School Athletes

Check out this trailer for a new documentary about lesbian and gay high school athletes, entitled Out For The Long Run. In the interests of full disclosure, I get to be a talking head in the film. The filmmakers interviewed me and filmed Dan Woog and I doing a workshop on LGBT athletes with the coaching staff at Mohawk Regional High School here in Massachusetts.

I’m excited because we need good educational tools to work with high schools I think this one could be really helpful. I look forward to seeing the finished product and will post information about it here when I have it. Our It Takes A Team video is getting a little long in the tooth and, though I still think the issues we address in it are relevant, I know athletes who see it get side tracked by dated sports shoes, uniforms and hair styles in the film. When I show it, I encourage them to focus on the issues, not the shoes and uniforms, but I know it would be more effective if we could update the video. That takes money, of course. I hope we can raise the funds we need to make a new video in the next year. In the meantime, I’m excited about this film.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What If He Was Gay? Steve McNair and Double Standards

It is a shame that former NFL quarterback, Steve McNair, died. He was one of the pioneering black quarterbacks in the NFL. He was only 36 years old. He was a role model (at least on the field) for many other young black and white athletes. He was adored by many. Thousands of people attended his funeral and the tributes to him in the media are numerous. He has been lauded as a “hero” and “a legend.”

Steve McNair was shot (several times) by his 20 year old mistress as he was sleeping on the couch in the condo he and a friend owned. She then shot and killed herself, trying to position herself so that she would fall on his lap.

The problem with this sad love affair gone wrong is that Steve McNair was married to another woman and has four children who will now grow up without their father. His pastor and friend cautioned mourners at his memorial service not to judge McNair by “casting the first stone” and to forget how he died and remember all the good things he did instead.

I am all for forgiveness. None of us are perfect and most of us have secrets or past personal indiscretions we are not proud of. Steve McNair could very well have been a “good man” despite cheating on his wife and putting himself before his children.

What is difficult for me is the hypocrisy that the reaction to Steve McNair’s death represents. We are asked to overlook Steve McNair’s adulterous indiscretion and see him as a man of God. I could only wish that fans, players and others who follow men’s professional sports teams could be as accepting of gay athletes who lead exemplary personal lives or even those whose personal relationships are similarly complicated as Steve McNair’s was.

Male professional athletes are often given a pass on bad behavior, even criminal behavior, but a law-abiding, morally upstanding gay athlete? No so much.

Leonard Matlovich was a decorated Vietnam war veteran. He was also gay and fought publicly against the military policy banning lesbian and gay service members. The hypocrisy in the reaction to Steve Mc Nair’s death reminds me of the words on Leonard Matlovich’s tombstone, “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

Felons, adulterers, drug cheats, drunken brawlers, and selfish egotists? Hey, who cares? We love you, man (no homo, of course) . An openly gay male athlete? No way. Not in my locker room. Not on my team.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wimbledon To Assign Courts Based on Anatomical Dimensions

In an effort to stem the tide of criticism over the use of heterosex appeal as a criterion for assigning courts in the women’s side of the bracket, Wimbledon officials have announced new gender equitable criteria for next year. All entrants (regardless of sex or gender identity) over the age of 18 will submit a certified list of anatomical measurements and a full body color photograph taken in a swim suit. The anatomical measurements submitted must be certified as accurate by a physician who will complete the measurements according to a strict protocol approved by Wimbledon officials. The anatomical measurements for competitors in the men’s championship must include shoulder width, chest circumference, height and, of course penis length and girth, at rest and erect. The competitors in the women’s event must submit measurements for body weight, breast size and booty circumference.

Nigel Weinemeyer-Smythe, a spokesperson for Wimbledon, said, “Size does matter and we believe that it should be taken into account for both the men’s and women’s championship. That is the only fair thing.”

As for the photographs, Weinemeyer-Smythe said, “We will appoint a panel of heterosexual judges who will be representative of the audience demographics we target for our championship. They will review the photographs. Their heterosex appeal ratings will be combined with the physical anatomy rankings using a scientific formula to determine which competitors play on centre court and then the ugly, excuse me, less attractive ones will be assigned to the other courts.”

Rumors have suggested that Wimbledon officials have also contemplated changing the required tennis attire to highlight the anatomical assets of the players. “Spandex all around,” chortled Weinemeyer-Smythe. He also said that Wimbledon officials were considering an adjunct competition that would name a king and queen of Wimbledon based on a ranking of all the competitors’ anatomical and photographic submissions. Weinemeyer-Smythe stated, “In the future, we might consider making this competition the focus of Wimbledon and make the actual tennis playing secondary depending on the fan response. "It gets so sweaty, you know.”

Players’ reaction to these changes has been immediate. Betty Breastimplant, who played on centre court this year, despite never having even owned a tennis racket before, bubbled, “With these new standards, I hope to get increased exposure and finally get that photo shoot for Maxim I’ve been after.”

Weinemeyer-Smythe concluded, “We heard the outcry over our focus on the women players’ attractiveness and this is a huge step forward for gender equity in sport. We are so proud that we have taken the lead in leveling the playing field. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, eh what!”