The Olympics are not just a sportsman’s paradise. They are also sports for people who really aren’t into sports. If they aren’t on your radar, allow me to posit some reasons why they should be. Today, the gay fans of the XXX Olympiad are On Our Radar.
The first and best reason to watch the Olympics is that you are going to have a good time. If you love sports, if you hate sports, or if you fall somewhere in between, there is something in the Olympics for everyone. Pageantry and politics. Victory and defeat. Colorful uniforms. Sweaty bodies. Ann Romney’s dancing pony. Pin trading! And I’m only getting started.
The first “can’t miss” event is the opening ceremony, Friday night, 7:30 PM ET. It will set the tone for your entire Olympic experience. Think of it as a party you’ve been invited to where you don’t know most of the people; it’s a time for introductions and snark. The ceremonies begin with a parade of nations. Each team marches in, usually wide-eyed and awe-struck, behind their country’s flag. At the closing ceremony, the athletes will arrive in party-mode and en masse, symbolizing their competition has bred friendships across national borders. That thought alone puts a lump in my throat.
Once the athletes are seated, the organizers present a first class pageant unique to the host country. It’s part history, part entertainment, and usually part subtle political statement. There is nothing like it anywhere. If you missed the two thousand drummers in perfect unison at the Beijing Olympics, or k.d. lang’s rendition of Hallelujah in Vancouver, or Muhummed Ali lighting the torch in Atlanta, you are officially allowed to list yourself as culturally deprived. You don’t want to take a chance being the only one who didn’t see whatever London’s amazing Opening Ceremony moment turns out to be. Avoiding that label alone is reason to tune in.
Of course, once the entertainment is over, the games begin. The trick for a non-sports fan to enjoy this aspect of the Olympics lies substantially in the choice of sport to be viwed. To help in that regard, the Olympics Organizers have posted this terrific schedule with a list of all 47 events. If you usually go shopping when your partner watches football, don’t attempt to start out with an hour-long hockey match. Try diving or pole vaulting, or other events that don’t require an extended time commitment. And by the way, for those who insist they HATE sports, there’s rhythmic gymnastics, and synchronized swimming, two fun-to-watch events barely on the cusp of genuine sport.
Want something you and your partner can watch together? Can you think of any better way to spend a 100 degree Saturday afternoon than hanging out in the air conditioning with an ice cold beverage, a sweaty beach volleyball game on the big screen TV, and the one you love?
Another great way to boost your Olympic experience is to interact with the athletes. The absolute best way to do that is to follow your favorite Olympians on Twitter for the behind-the-scenes scoop. They will be sure to tweet their feeling when they win, and better still, they have been known to tweet entertaining snark when they lose. For sure they will tweet photos of places and people you and I will never be fortunate enough to see. Some of the athletes have even been known to tweet what they are eating for their pre-event breakfast. So why not live the Olympic experience vicariously? To help you get started I have made a Twitter timeline of all out gay Olympic athletes who tweet. I added to them the official Olympics Twitter account and the Twitter account for Pride House, which is the London hub for LGBT athletes and fans. If you are into Twitter, you can use it as a starting point and add other straight athletes from Twitter’s verified Olympians list. It’s the next best thing to being there.
If you need any further reason to give an hour or ten to Olympics watching, how about this one: to support all the out gay athletes at the games. An estimated 2000 athletes from around the planet are expected to participate. Since scientists think somewhere around four percent of humankind is homosexual, erring on the conservative side, we would expect at least 80 of those athletes to be gay. As of today, we have found twenty-one, and that’s if you include coaches.
That minuscule number – 1% of the athletes, and all but three of them women – suggests there is some greater difficulty gay athletes face in coming out than gays encounter in the general population. That number also speaks to the bravery of the athletes who have publicly embraced their sexuality. That’s why my number one reason for making room for the Olympics in your life for the next two weeks, is cheering those out gay athletes loudly and publicly. Tweet to them and about them. Use the #Olympics and #lgbt hashtags. Send them congratulations on Facebook. Let them know, and any athlete thinking about coming out know, the LGBT community is ready to cheer them when they win, and to catch them if they stumble. Let them feel that gay fan love all the way in London,
I don’t believe for a second the gay community lacks the desire to support gay athletes. I think the problem may be a practical one; by the time you find out there was a gay athlete who made Olympic history; it’s usually because you saw a photo of him standing on the medal stand. Well, this year The New Civil Rights Movement is here to change that.
At the end of this article, you will find a roster of all the participating “out” Olympians we could find. Under the line with each out athlete’s name, home country, and sport, I have listed their Twitter account name, their Facebook page, and the official Olympic page listing the schedule of events for their particular sport. Now you will know when they are competing. These same pages will also announce the results in real time, so if you miss the event, you’ll know what happened.
In addition, each morning during the games, The New Civil Rights Movement will post a schedule of each day’s events in which an LGBT athlete is competing. So no excuses! Support your country. Support out athletes. Expand your horizons. Have some fun. The Olympics are the Brigadoon of goodwill, so don’t miss out.
Today, the 2012 London Olympic Games, the gay athletes who will play them, and the gay fans who will watch, are all, On Our Radar.
Jean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle. Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter at @uncucumbered.
Radar image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A FAN’S GUIDE TO THE GAY 2012 OLYMPIANS
Marilyn Agliotti (Netherlands, Field Hockey)
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