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Friday, August 12, 2016

And all the while, they complain about the gays cramming stuff down *their* throats.

This story hasn't gotten much ink, literal or pixellated. 

It doesn't fit anywhere in NBC's Olympic Vision, and Donald Trump sucks up most of the rest of the brain space of the US public.

At the gut-reaction level, it's an easy story to dismiss with a sneer and a bit of Luke 18:11 pharisaical self-congratulation.

"Gay people looking for sex at the Olympics on the internets? It figures. Bodies like gods, all they do is think about sex, not God who gives them their gold. Glad nobody *I* know's like that."

LGBT people are not normal, the standard narrative holds, which is why religious, social and political institutions spend so much time creating, and expanding, spaces where they can safely denigrate, occasionally beat or kill, and deny the protections of law to them in a penalty-free affirmation of what is right and normal in life.

It's the kind of attitude I grew up with in Shelby, North Carolina, where parents- who'd have thrown their sons out for coming out- forked over for abortions when their boys got their girlfriends pregnant.

Randy straight teens had a different rule book, and it was - and remains- all theirs.

That's why the price of admission to several major world religions remains celibacy for LGBT people. Again, they aren't normal, so normal rules don't apply. Straight people, as E.M. Forster wrote of England, have 'always been disinclined to accept human nature.'

Most of the nations most of the 11,000 athletes represent in Rio criminalize being gay and/or foment social prejudice to do the dirty work for them.

Imagine the pressure LGBT elite athletes must feel in those lands, knowing their ticket out of poverty is not only peak performance but not being found out.

So you work like a demon, pretty much giving up most of the trappings of normal life, however defined, and you get a chance to spent several weeks a long way from home in a supposedly safe environment of your peers.

I got a sense of that during two years I lived in England after college. It was the first time- and the last, for another fifteen years, when I could just be me. And even then, I was mostly afraid to try me on for size. Neighbors came to town with regularity, wanting the tour. A friend at Christ Church turned up in Shelby as best man for a college mate of his who married a highs school friend of mine (in the 1990s, when I had a partner, another high school classmate called me, keen to meet us when she was in Seattle on business. We invited her to dinner, only to be required to take an oath, after the waiter took our orders, to never let her mother in Shelby find out she had seen us).

But at least in those days, anyone who wanted to speculate about me had to either do it to my face, behind my back, or in the anonymous calls I got on visits home (Y'all didn't disguise your voices nearly as well as you thought).

So that's why The Daily Beast story struck a nerve. Most people can't conceive of what it is like to not feel like there is anywhere in the world you can go without someone turning up to out you or hurt you, for your entire adult life. You may get some respites- a nightclub, an online chat- but you never know when someone is going to turn up to reclaim that, too.

So you're in Rio, and think it's safe to look at online meeting sites that use GPS to not only tell you who might be interesting but how close they are. Only 43 athletes in Rio are out- 0.0039% of all of them. And if you're in the closet- perhaps counterintuitively, to folks who have never had to consider life this way- out LGBT folk aren't necessarily the first ones you seek out to dip a toe in the water near. After all, being seen with them might rub off.

So you try the phone apps. Wrong. A married American journo with kids pitches come-ons to you, only revealing his peeping-tom purpose after you respond. And then he publishes an article that makes it easy to identify you. And then his publishers say, "We didn't mean anything by it." On the long flight home, you wonder whether the government will have found out, and you are about to lose all.

I get memes from less-thoughtful friends from my Shelby days asking why they don't get to have "Straight Pride" parades.

You don't need them. You've never had to constantly carve out safe spaces to just be left the hell alone by some other group that can't get enough of wanting to know what you are up to. In your world, marriage is your right, and you hold the power to deny it to others, then denigrate others for not being able to form lasting relationships amidst all your other efforts to blow them up.

Because Bible. Because God. Because you can.

I tried, for a little bit, to think of what situation could be visited upon the author and editors and publishers of this story- and their families- to do them what they did to these athletes.

I gave up. I wouldn't wish that on the worst person I know. Not even the Nashville songwriter.

1 comment:

  1. It's hard not to wish something equally bad on someone who would pull this sort of maliciousness. Some people, unfortunately, can't be made to walk in others' shoes without physically picking them up and putting them in those shoes.

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