Monday, June 5, 2017

LGBT Athletes Take A Backseat at Outgames, Scandal and Cultural Events Dominate

IGLA Championships in Miami

So perusing social media and media in general, coverage of last week's "failed" Outgames was limited to scandal, scandal, and a few short paragraphs about a LGBT swim meet and fawning of the cultural events that accompanied the sports.  The Miami Herald's coverage was particularly dismal and pretty clear that had no scandal occurred, there would have been no coverage whatsoever. Same can be said for local gay media.  Which is a shame because it was the 30th Anniversary of International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics, an organization dedicated to elevating LGBT swimmers and ensuring that gay and lesbian swimmers are respected for all of their accomplishments in the water. Outgames are about competing with dignity, about fighting homophobia in sports. 

It was a real shocker when Outgames cancelled on the opening day of the 10 day sporting event. Naturally, being funded by the City of Miami Beach, a scandal ensued, especially since thousands of athletes had already arrived and were told that their events were cancelled.  Rightfully, media pounced on the ensuing scandal and began coverage.

What was clear to me however, is the local media, gay or otherwise, had no intention of covering the sporting events at all. Sadly, it was clear that no reporters were going to cover swimming, field hockey, soccer or volleyball. It was clear that our "LGBT special correspondent" Steve Rothaus was unable to leverage a single line from the Miami Herald's sports desk, not one photographer to take some shots of athletes doing amazing things, even breaking records!  

From an LGBT athlete's perspective it's more of the same homophobia.  Sports is the one place that is still not welcoming to LGBT community, to the point that we have constructed parallel organizations that let us compete in safety, with dignity.  The homophobia that reigned in the locker rooms of our youth, extends to the gay community denigrating sports in general. Secondly, the messages sent to athletes in the closet are loud and clear, don't expect much support from the LGBT community either. 

I want to say that Miami's  LGBT swim team, The Nadadores, and water polo team,The Miami Vice, distinguished themselves in the water and on the pool deck. Hosting the largest swimming event in Miami in years, over 600 swimmers from 36 countries. Volunteers stepped up with the collapse of the Outgames and helped show how amazing Miami is.  The Swedish team , Dolphins SwimClub, set a new Swedish national record for their medley relay.   All of this happened in Miami and Gay Miamians should be proud of it. It 's a story that should be told. 

Miami Vice Polo Team, 5th place out of 20 teams at IGLA event