28th January 2008
Gays protest homophobic violence in Sydney
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
The Lord Mayor of Sydney spoke at a rally held in the city last weekend to protest at the rising number of attacks on gay and lesbian people. Hundreds of people turned out on Australia Day for the Reclaim the Right event.
Organiser Ben Veenkamp welcomed the presence of Mayor Clover Moore and Liberal city councillor Shayne Mallard. “The thing that I’m hoping [to do] by drawing all these people to this park, is for people to [be] empowered to get those results, rather than to depend on the agencies who’ve been promising for so long,” he told ABC News.
There have been a series of attacks on gay people in and around Oxford St, the centre of the Sydney gay village. Police in the area have faced severe criticism for failing to take the assaults seriously enough. Last week acting Central Metropolitan Regional Commander Paul Carey told the Sydney Star Observer: “All too often people become a victim of crime or an offender because of alcohol and drug abuse, and police in Surry Hills and surrounding inner-city suburbs are tackling these issues on a nightly basis. It should also be pointed out that it can be difficult for police to positively determine that a crime is motivated by homophobia or any other prejudice without first interviewing the offender to ascertain their motivation.”
The spate of gay bashings comes at a key time for the city’s gay community. Next month sees the 30th anniversary of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. This year’s proceedings kick off on Saturday 9th February with a commemorative tree planting ceremony in Centennial Park and will culminate in the world famous-parade along Oxford St on Saturday 1st March. The three week arts, sports and cultural festival will see a wealth of international and national performers and visitors in 2008. Singer Cyndi Lauper, and stand up comic Margaret Cho are among the headline acts. Mardi Gras is a major contributor to Sydney’s reputation as a global city, and brings thousands of international and interstate visitors, who inject more than $46 million (£20.5m) to the New South Wales economy.
February 04, 2008
A loud, proud crowd at Gay Pride March
by Jordana Borensztajn
It was a riot of colour as thousands of Melburnians celebrated the 13th Gay Pride march in St Kilda yesterday. More than 1000 athletes from the Asia Pacific Outgames led the march as hundreds of floats put their gay pride on display. Rainbow flags were held high as marchers made their way along Fitzroy St to a concert in Catani Gardens. A police band marched for the first time among many other arts, ethnic, religious, and sporting groups.
Port Phillip mayor Janet Cribbes said the council had been proud to support the event since it started. “It’s sad but true, prejudice against gays and lesbians still exist,” she said.
Martin Foley, the new member for Albert Park, relayed an important message from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who said his government would “continue to march towards tolerance, respect and diversity”.
Float participant Max Primmer, in his 50s from Creswick, said the march was important because it brought the community together.“We’re gay, we’re proud to be gay and we’re happy to show ourselves off for being gay,” he said.
March 1, 2008
More than gay, the young ones move on
by Robert Reynolds
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras turns 30 this month, and it’s hard to ignore the impending birthday celebrations. A press release from the organisers has promised Mardi Gras “will show Sydney what it means to come of age”. Either their enthusiasm has got the better of good arithmetic, or 30 is the new 21. I can almost hear the sniggers from social conservatives: they have long insinuated that homosexuals are immature. This hoary chestnut of homosexuality as arrested development got a recent, unexpected airing in no less than the official Mardi Gras Festival Guide. Stevie Clayton is a respected, long-time lesbian activist, the former co-chairwoman of Mardi Gras and the chief executive officer of the AIDS Council of NSW. Blooded in the identity politics of the 1990s, she has the runs on the board. But writing in the festival guide, Clayton admits to unease about the state of Sydney’s gay community.
Why the back-biting, she ponders, the lack of pride in gay and lesbian culture, and the reluctance to vote along gay lines? Perhaps, she muses, it’s time for the gay community to “grow up”, truly appreciate Mardi Gras, and “take our place alongside every other group in a multicultural Australia”. I was puzzled when I read Clayton’s Mardi Gras broadside, for it is so far out of whack with discussions I have had with young gay men in Sydney. Put bluntly, her concerns don’t register with the under-25s, at least not the articulate, savvy young men I have interviewed. Far from bemoaning the lack of gay community, these young men are just getting on with creating interesting, full and varied lives. And quite often, being gay is just one element of who they are and how they live.
Take Dave, a former country boy who moved to Sydney to study at university, as an example. It took him a while to realise he was gay. Coming from a conservative family, he didn’t recognise himself in media images of homosexuality. A loner in his youth, Dave had worried he was “a weirdo or a freak” because he didn’t fit the vigorously heterosexual culture of his small town. That changed in Sydney when he met his first boyfriend – who made all the moves – and Dave figured out he wasn’t a weirdo, he was simply gay. So began Dave’s introduction to Sydney gay life: a couple of boyfriends, including a three-year relationship; occasional nights out on Oxford Street; and his first Mardi Gras party. But when I speak to Dave he has already tired of a strong identification with gay life. “I’m not a gay guy first,” he says firmly. “I’m passionate about the things that I do, and I’m intensely passionate about architecture and design; things like that will get me going.” Dave doesn’t hold much truck with the expectation that “you have to be friends with other gay guys because they are gay”. Instead, he socialises in mixed circles, where shared interests rather than sexuality keep the bonds of friendship strong.
Despite enjoying the Mardi Gras party, Dave isn’t greatly taken by Mardi Gras as a fixture of Sydney life. “I don’t know if I see the parade as being this quintessential part of my life that needs to happen,” he says. Nor is he particularly attached to the concept of gay community. In contrast to Clayton’s invoking of multiculturalism, Dave dismisses the idea that homosexuality is akin to an ethnic identity. “I don’t think being gay really works in that sense,” he says.
Andrew, too, doesn’t have a deep investment in Mardi Gras. He is glad it is there, and would be a “a little bit sad” if it wasn’t, but it hardly rules his February. Andrew shares a flat with a straight friend in Darlinghurst. Two years ago they wandered down to watch the parade for half an hour before ambling home. Last year they didn’t bother. As a rule, he avoids Oxford Street at night. “I’m not a huge fan of it,” he says. Andrew dislikes the sleek surfaces and pumped bodies found in Sydney’s gay bars and clubs. More of an indie kid than a gym bunny, he doesn’t feel much affiliation with the stylised gay men who promenade the streets of inner Sydney, all sharp haircuts, muscles and tattoos. Andrew has no sense of tribal belonging, a sentiment still fashionable among older gay men and lesbians.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the dance hit We Are Family was claimed by the gay community as an anthem – an ode to gay belonging. Mardi Gras served it up as a catchcry of Sydney gay life. It resonated powerfully with that first cohort of gay men and lesbians intoxicated on the new freedoms of the sub-culture. But it bears little resemblance to the world inhabited today by young men such as Andrew and Dave. This doesn’t make them immature; they are just not that interested in gay life. They have moved on, and who can blame them? There is no point bewailing that the world has changed. Save that energy for the unfinished battles, such as civil unions and combating anti-gay violence and attitudes. After all, the spirit of rampant individuality is just as much a part of Mardi Gras history as collective gay identity.
So this Mardi Gras, as gay community veterans gather to relive the triumphs of days past, they should rest easy and not keen the loss of community spirit. All things considered, the kids are doing just fine.
Robert Reynolds is the author of What Happened To Gay Life? (UNSW Press).
March 5, 2008
Gay rights group tackles homophobia
An Austrian gay rights group has launched an international poster competition to raise the issue of homophobia in football during June’s European Championship. The Vienna-based QWIEN organisation said on its website (www.qwien.at) that a jury would select the 50 best posters to put on display in the city during the tournament being co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland.
“According to statistics five per cent of the total population is gay,” the organisation said in a statement announcing the competition on Tuesday. ” As a result therefore, of the 500 professional players in the Austrian football league 25 should be gay. However there is not one gay professional player in Austria … who openly admits his homosexuality. By issuing a Europe-wide poster competition we are making an otherwise taboo topic public during the period of Euro 2008.”
28th April, 2008
Gay Couple Win Out Over Church Group
by Christian Taylor
A gay couple have won a discrimination case against a welfare agency linked to the Uniting Church. Their application to become foster parents was refused because they were gay. While gay parents and their children in NSW were just given a swag of new legal rights, gay couples already had the right to to become foster parents. Despite this, the organisation stood by their refusal, saying that they were exempt from anti-discrimination law because of religious reasons.
According to News.com.au the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal ruled that they were “unlawfully discriminated against on the ground of homosexuality” and they were awarded $5000 each in compensation. The couple had also asked for a public apology but the tribunal didn’t award them this. They did, however, order that the welfare agency have a close look at its processes to ensure that this didn’t happen again.
May 29, 2008
Australian diver comes out ahead of Olympics
by Mark Umbach
Like many athletes around the world, Australian Matthew Mitcham fought his way to the top of his sport to qualify for the Beijing Olympic Games. Unlike many of his Olympic counterparts however, the diver must fight to bring his life partner with him to the Games. Mitcham, 20, came out in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald this Sunday. Now, he will compete on the 10-metre platform, diving for the gold as Australia’s only openly gay Olympic athlete. What Mitcham would like more than anything else is for his longtime partner, Lachlan, who fought the tumultuous battle of Olympic dreams with Mitcham, to be there in the stands cheering him on.
Maybe a little bit to his own surprise, Mitcham fought the elements and took home the gold, besting two Chinese divers that will be gunning for him in a few short months in Beijing. If things come together for Mitcham, he could become only the second openly gay diver with some gold medal hardware on his mantle. Greg Louganis, a three-time Olympian, came out as gay shortly after returning from the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. Louganis won gold on the 3-metre spring board and 10-metre platform at both the 1984 Los Angeles Games and the Seoul Games, as well as taking a silver medal in the 10 metre at the 1976 Montreal Games.The young diver and his partner currently do not have the funds to get Lachlan to Beijing, but Mitcham tells the SMH that Johnson & Johnson offers an Athlete Support Programme that would allow for friends and family of those competing to travel to the competition. It has been a long road for Mitcham. For a long time the young athlete had to battle depression, which led him to see psychologists and a brief time on medication. Then, after both a physical and mental burnout, he decided to retire from the sport while still a teenager. Nine months later he realised he had not yet lived his dream and, literally, dove back in head first. Just last week Mitcham was back in action in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, competing in the USA Diving Grand Prix.
Come August, all eyes will be on the 10 metre platform once again
June 2, 2008
The ACT’s first civil ceremony marking the registration of a same sex relationship has taken place
In a low-key ceremony on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, two men marked a historic moment in the ACT. It was the first commitment ceremony to be held in Canberra in the wake of the ACT Government passing laws to recognise same sex partnerships. The laws allow same sex couples to take part in a civil ceremony, but the ceremony itself is not legally binding. The couple – who have been together for 25 years – read out promises of commitment to each other and exchanged rings.
Danielle Krajina from the office of regulatory services officiated. “It’s exciting for the staff to be involved in something like this and we’ve been working on and off on the partnership process for a good two years now, so it’s nice to see that its finally come to fruition,” she said.
Rebecca Leighton from the gay lobby group Campaign for Civil Unions says such recognition means a lot to same sex couples, “It’s a really nice step forward – couples here have been waiting for years for some recognition for their relationships,” she said.
The ACT’s first civil ceremony marking the registration of a same sex relationship has taken place. In a low-key ceremony on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, two men marked a historic moment in the ACT. It was the first commitment ceremony to be held in Canberra in the wake of the ACT Government passing laws to recognise same sex partnerships. The laws allow same sex couples to take part in a civil ceremony, but the ceremony itself is not legally binding. The couple – who have been together for 25 years – read out promises of commitment to each other and exchanged rings.
June 9, 2008
Queen’s honour for gay rights campaigner
Melbourne academic and gay rights campaigner Professor Dennis Altman has written a dozen books, is a leading human rights activist and played a major role in the development of HIV/AIDS policy. For those, and other, achievements he has become a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. Born in Sydney and educated in Hobart, Prof Altman started his career as a politics lecturer at Monash University in the 1960s, moving to the University of Sydney where, in 1971, he published his first book, Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation.
Since then he has written another 11 books, including a number on the issues of homosexuality and AIDS. He is currently a politics professor at La Trobe University. Prof Altman is also involved in numerous Australian and international bodies and served as president of the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific for four years until 2005. Reacting to his Queen’s birthday honour, Prof Altman questioned the structure of the awards, which he said didn’t always award those who were deserving of recognition.
“Of course it’s gratifying and I suppose a sort of mixture of pleasure and embarrassment,” Prof Altman said. “Part of me is delighted but I also feel somewhat ambivalent, the advantage of having been given one is that I can say that without having sour grapes.”
July 4, 2008
Australia’s gay Olympian attacks PM over same-sex marriage
by Tony Grew
A 20-year-old diver set to represent Australia at the 2008 Olympic Games in August has said that the country’s Prime Minister is “narrow-minded” for opposing marriage equality for gay couples. When Matthew Mitcham casually mentioned to a reporter that he lives with his boyfriend Lachlan, he inadvertently generated headlines across the world. In an in-depth interview with Sydney gay publication SX News, he spoke about coming out at 14, being a role model for gay youth and his unhappiness with Prime Minister’s attitude to gay marriage.
“Kevin Rudd’s opinion of marriage as something that’s only between a man and a woman is quite narrow-minded,” he said. “During the election campaign he was all about appearing young and cool, but his views on gay marriage make him look quite old-fashioned.”
The Labour party took office last December, ending 11 years of conservative rule under John Howard. Mr Rudd immediately denied rumours that his Labour government intends to legalise civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. During the election campaign he repeatedly stated that he regards marriage as between a man and a woman, and he favours a form of registered partnerships.
In 2004, under former Prime Minister John Howard, federal legislation banning same-sex marriage was passed. Matthew Mitcham told SX News that he is completely focused on the Beijing Games. “I’ve been diving since I was eleven, so it’s been nine years of work leading up to this,” he said.“A relationships register, nationally consistent of the type we’ve had in Tasmania since 2004, we believe is a positive and productive way forward,” he said. “Particularly if you add to it appropriate nationally uniform legislation and to remove any impediments to same sex couples in relation to inheritance law, taxation law and social security law.”
Read the full interview with Matthew Mitcham here.
July 22, 2008
Black protests mark end of Pope’s trip to Australia
by Jessica Wilkins
Thousands of gay rights protesters across Australia joined a black parade in protest over the Pope’s visit to the country. A spokesman for the march said it was designed to tell the Pope “homosexuality is not a sin.” Protesters carried placards with slogans reading “Pope go homo” and “Pope wanted for murder.”
Pope Benedict XVI had been in Australia as part of World Youth Day (WYD) a mass gathering of pilgrims aimed at encouraging them to “celebrate their faith around a particular theme.” As pilgrims marched through from Anzac Parade and Moore Park Road, in Sydney on Sunday, thousands of protesters handed out free condoms along the route.
There was one reported clash between protesters and pilgrims. A Catholic man launched himself onto a gay protester, punching him on the neck. He was arrested and later released without charge. The protests were mostly peaceful. The New South Wales police had banned protesters from attending WYD under the guise it was illegal to “annoy” the protesters. This ban was later overturned by the Australian Federal Court. Pope Benedict returned to Rome yesterday.
July 23, 2008
Swimmer Ian Thorpe reveals he is dating a woman
by Mark Umbach
For years, probably since his appearance at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, many have been speculating, and most gay men have been hoping, that the Thorpedo—gold medal winner Ian Thorpe—was indeed a homo. Well, don’t count on it. This past weekend, in an interview with Australian paper The Sunday Telegraph, Thorpe was again vague about the gender of his new significant other. When asked if there was someone special in his life he said, “There is, but they don’t live in this country.”
Web site News.AU.com reports that, in an interview with Women’s Day, Thorpe finally revealed the gender of his new love interest. “I am in a new relationship and I am very happy; except she lives on the other side of the world.” Thorpe told the magazine. “It’s very cool, but we want to see how it goes. She’s a friend of a friend and we were introduced. She has all the qualities that are most important to me.”That interview had the web buzzing that Thorpe might finally reveal more details about his private life, which hehas famously kept to himself, probably part of the reason for the homospeculation. On Monday, however, all our Thorpe dreams were finally laid to rest.
Over the years, despite the rumours, Thorpe has been linked to a slew of women, including American swimming champion Amanda Beard and Fox Sports’ Lee Furlong. Thorpe will be seen in Beijing at the Olympics this August as part of his sponsorship deals.
August 14, 2008
Olympics Still Rough Terrain for Openly Gay Athletes Fear of Losing Sponsors, Alienating Fans Keep Many Athletes in the Closet
by Ryan Lee
The 4×200 meter freestyle relay at the 1984 Olympics has been dubbed “the perfect race” by swimming aficionados. Just a year after that race, “the nation’s best all around freestyle swimmer” was 22 years old and in peak physical condition — and ready to walk away from competitive swimming for good. “I feel like I had a great Olympic experience, but I definitely feel that I wasn’t entirely comfortable in that environment,” said Bruce Hayes, who won the gold medal in that event by .04 seconds.
Hayes may have conquered “the Albatross” in the pool, but he continued to be burdened by a different kind of albatross within the swimming world — being gay. “I think I had the same kind of fears that anyone coming out has, particularly since it was 24 years ago, but I think the environment actually made it worse,” Hayes said. “When you’re in an athletic environment, when you live in that environment year-round, there’s just not a comfort level of coming out and sharing that kind of information with people.”
Hayes never encountered any outright hostility from coaches and teammates within USA Swimming, but the high-pressure atmosphere and tunnel vision of Olympic training didn’t allow space for Hayes to deal with his personal struggles. “It wasn’t like they were homophobic, but they just weren’t sensitized to it,” Hayes said. “I wouldn’t say there was any kind of sensitivity to the fact that one of their athletes might be gay.” Even the triumph of winning an Olympic gold medal couldn’t settle the discontent within Hayes, and a year after his stunning victory over the West Germans, he retired from swimming. “
I think I would’ve continued had I felt comfortable being myself, but I didn’t, and I really kind of felt like I had to give up swimming to come out,” Hayes said. “I don’t know if it was a conscious choice, even; but now when I look back and wonder why I didn’t go forward, that was definitely one of the reasons, in the back of my mind.”
More than two-dozen former Olympians have come out as gay or lesbian, although most did so after retiring. Three openly gay athletes are competing in the Beijing Olympics, but none are representing the United States. Two lesbian athletes from Germany — cyclist Judith Arndt and fencer Imke Duplitzer — are returning to the Olympics after previous performances, while 20-year-old Australian diver Matthew Mitcham is making his Olympic debut.
The International Olympic Committee has become more welcoming of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes in recent years, including allowing post-operative transgender athletes to compete for the first time during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. The IOC has also worked with Mitcham to ensure that his boyfriend will be able to attend the Beijing Games, according to Kelly Stevens, communications director for the Federation of Gay Games, an Olympics-style competition for gay athletes.
Organizers of the Gay Games have been in contact with Mitcham, Arndt and Duplitzer to offer support and an extended cheerleading section. Everything helps,” said Stevens, who added that there are likely many more gay athletes competing in Beijing who have not come out of the closet. “And there might be some others out there who are out to their family or friends, but they’re not talking to the press.”
The limited number of out Olympians is a bit surprising, but isn’t indicative of an anti-gay climate at the Olympic Games, Stevens said. “I would think we’re at a time when it’s easier for people to be out, particularly in the developing nations,” Stevens said. “I don’t think that it’s a measurement of the Olympics itself, I think it’s a measure of [athletes’] own countries.”
August 8, 2008
11 out gay/bi athletes to watch at the Olympic Games
by News Editor
Only 11 of the 11,000 athletes at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games are known to be openly gay or bisexual – and of which only one is a gay man. Of 10,708 athletes from a record number of 205 participating countries at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games which opens on Friday, only 11 are known to be openly gay or bisexual; of which only one is a gay man.
Outsports.com’s Jim Buzinski, who initially counted five athletes but later amended the list to 11 after being alerted by readers who had written in, listed one gay man Australian Matthew Mitcham (diving), one female bisexual American Vicky Galindo (softball), and nine lesbians: Judith Arndt (Germany, cycling), Imke Duplitzer (Germany, fencing), Gro Hammerseng and Katja Nyberg (Norway, handball and a lesbian couple), Natasha Kai (US, soccer), Lauren Lappin (US, softball); Victoria “Vickan” Svensson (Sweden, soccer); Rennae Stubbs (Australia, tennis) and Linda Bresonik (Germany, soccer).
The most well known of the lot is undisputedly Mitcham who made a splash around the world for being the first openly gay Australian man to compete in the Games. On May 24, The Sydney Morning Herald broke the news of his being gay in “Out, proud and ready to go for gold.” The 20-year-old diver told a gay Sydney newspaper that he had not intended to come out and was just answering a question a question posed to him by the journalist. (See story #14 below: Mitcham wins gold medal.)
He was quoted in SXNews as saying: “I came out years ago. All that happened recently was that I was doing an interview with the Herald and there was a pretty innocuous question, ‘Who do I live with?’ and I just said ‘my partner Lachlan’. And the journalist was really excited – she thought it was absolutely wonderful!” The former trampoline athlete is expected to have a serious shot at a medal in Beijing after winning gold in the 10m platform event at the 2008 Diving Grand Prix in Fort Lauderdale, USA.
Australian women’s tennis doubles player Rennae Stubbs His compatriot women’s tennis doubles player Rennae Stubbs, who’s representing Australia at the Olympics for the fourth time, came out in The Age newspaper in 2001. “I always say to my friends, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if everybody who was gay said they were? If we said: February 21, or whatever, this is the coming out day. So, if you are, you have to come out to everybody you know’. It would be phenomenal. And it would be nice if everybody could just accept that it’s not a choice, this is who you are. You would never, ever choose this, choose to be gay.
It’s such a difficult thing to deal with and coming out to people and talking about it, and coming out to your family. But I don’t hide who I am any more. Everyone in the tennis world pretty much knows who’s gay and who’s not; the only reason I would like it spoken about publicly more is that I wish everybody would realise that, ‘See all those people you admire? Out of 10 of them, four are gay, and I just want you to know that your child can still idolise them’.”
Buzinski, a former sports editor and co-founder of the Outsports web site, stressed that while there are possibly many more gay athletes at the Games, the list comprises only those who can be “determine(d) to be ‘publicly out,’ having discussed their sexuality openly in some manner.” He further cited various reasons why athletes are not openly gay from “the effects on performance, interaction with teammates, fans and the media, and, in some cases, endorsements.
In addition, the vast majority of Olympic athletes are under 30, a time when even people who are not elite jocks are wrestling with their sexuality. Being an Olympic athlete requires full-time dedication and a lot of things get put on hold. It is just easier to hide and deal with one’s sexuality later.”
August 13, 2008
Number of Australian gay partnerships exceeds expectations
By Rachel Charman
More Australian gay couples are registering their partnerships than anticipated by the government. The Civil Partnerships Act 2008 was passed by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Legislative Assembly in May. The Act allowed gay couples to legally register their partnerships for the first time. Since May, there have been 23 registrations and two commitment ceremonies.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said that these figures ‘exceeded all expectations’, reports National Nine News. Mr. Corbell said that the government had only expected around 15 registrations per year. ‘With spring and Floriade just around the corner, we may well see many more commitment ceremonies ad partnerships registered before the end of this year,’ he said.
The first civil ceremony marking the registration of a same sex relationship took place in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in June. Civil union schemes are only open to residents of the particular state or territory which provides them and are not recognised by other Australian states or territories. Some countries, however, such as the United Kingdom do recognise Australian civil unions.
August 24, 2008
See video of Matthew’s dives: http://dailymotion.alice.it/video/x6iyuo_matthew-mitcham-medaille-dor_sport
by Katie Thomas
Beijing — All week long, the Chinese have spun into the diving pool as if pulled on a wire, piercing the water with the smallest of splashes. But on Saturday night at the men’s 10-meter platform finals, their can’t-miss consistency finally faltered, and they failed to win a gold medal in a diving event for the first time in the Beijing Games. The Australian Matthew Mitcham took the honor, scoring a 112.10 in the final round that edged Zhou Luxin of China by 4.80 points. The Russian Gleb Galperin placed third, leaving Huo Liang in fourth place — the first time during this Olympics that a Chinese diver placed lower than third. The finish stunned Mitcham, 20, who failed to reach the finals in the 3-meter springboard event on Tuesday and ended up finishing in 16th place. Before Saturday’s competition, Mitcham said he tried to relax and enjoy the experience.
Still, Zhou held first place throughoutthe first five rounds and Mitcham seemed destined for a silver. Then, Zhou curved his body before the entry on his final dive, a reverse three-and-a-half somersault, and the judges gave him 6s, 7s and 8s. Mitcham followed with a nearly flawless dive that not only carried a higher degree of difficulty — a 3.8 compared to Zhou’s 3.4 dive — but also earned him four more 10s from the judges.“I was definitely stressing it to myself, just enjoy the moment,” he said after the competition. “I never thought that this would be possible. I wasn’t even sure of my medal chances at all.” Mitcham started the finals with a mediocre dive that earned him 7s and 8s and placed him ninth over all. On his second dive, he more than made up for it with a back three-and-a-half somersault that won four 10s from the judges and put him in second place.
After the dive, Mitcham popped his head out of the water and smiled broadly, then climbed out of the pool and raised his arms into the air. After he saw his score, he dropped to his knees and began to cry. The Chinese had hoped to sweep the diving events in the Olympics with eight gold medals. In a news conference after the medal ceremony, Zhou said nerves got in the way of his diving. “I think I had a chance to get the gold,” he said. “Maybe it’s because I was too energetic to have a good performance after that first round that I made some mistakes.”
Saturday’s results were also disappointing for the Americans, who wondered why they did not win any medals in a sport in which they had once dominated. This marks the second Olympics in a row in which the United States has not won a medal. The two Americans in the finals, David Boudia and Thomas Finchum, placed 10th and 12th, respectively. However, the Americans did better than their performance in Athens, when several divers did not make it to the finals, said Bob Rydze, vice chairman of competitive excellence for USA Diving.
He noted that three of the four synchronized diving teams — all but the women’s 10-meter platform team —finished five points below the bronze-medal scores. “Personally, I thought they had three medals easily in the synchro,” he said after the competition. After Athens, he said, “our major goal was to get reorganized and really work for 2012.”
08 August 2008
Sydney moves to curb growing violence in gay village
by 365gay Newscenter Staff
(Sydney, Australia) Sydney city government is threatening to revoke the licenses of bars and clubs if their patrons are found guilty of attacking gays and lesbians in the gay village along Oxford Street. Homophobic violence has escalated over the past year. In January, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore complained twice in writing to NSW Police Minister David Campbell that police were not doing enough to stem the violence. In a six week period alone there were 22 reports of anti-gay violence in the area, one of the world’s largest LGBT communities. Last December a gay couple was attacked leaving one of the men with a shattered jaw and broken leg. There have been no arrests.
Now Moore is proposing declaring the Oxford Street area a “homophobia-free zone.” “At this point, the ball is with council staff to develop a proposal that will come back to council over the next few months, but it could involve stickers, badges, posters and T-shirts,” city councilor Phillip Black told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We have to create awareness that homophobia is not acceptable,” he said.
But the plan is not without detractors. Some residents of the area say it does not go far enough. They want an increased police presence on the street. City councilor Shayne Mallard calls the plan silly. “The young men who come in from outer suburbs to drink alcohol and assault gay people are not going to be deterred by a sticker in a window,” he told The Australian newspaper. “Because they already have homophobic and violent tendencies, it’s more likely to be a provocation,” he said.
August 24th, 2008
NBC Censors Sexual Orientation Of Openly Gay Gold Medalist Diver
According to OutSports.com, of the 10,708 athletes at the Olympics this year, just 10 have identified themselves publicly as being gay. Of the 10, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham is the only male gay athlete. Yesterday, Mitcham won the gold in the in the 10m platform diving event, scoring an upset over the Chinese team, which was heavily favored to win. But as Maggie Hendricks at Yahoo’s Olympics blog notes, NBC never mentioned Mitcham’s orientation: NBC did not mention Mitcham’s orientation, nor did they show his family and partner who were in the stands. NBC has made athletes’ significant others a part of the coverage in the past, choosing to spotlight track athlete Sanya Richards’ fiancee, a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and Kerri Walsh’s wedding ring debacle.
In his press interview after the event, however, Mitcham stood with both his mother and his partner, Lachlan, thanking them for the support they’ve provided. Watch it: Click Here
Mitcham first came out in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald on May 24. Mitcham said that they couldn’t afford for Lachlan to attend the games, so had applied for — and was awarded — a grant through the Johnson & Johnson Athlete Family Support Program to send him to Beijing. According to the LA Times, the first thing Mitcham did when meeting with journalists after his win was “hug the reporter who handled the story with particular sensitivity.”
August 25, 2008
Matthew Mitcham is Golden at Beijing Olympics
When Australian diver Matthew Mitcham – the only out male athlete at the Beijing Games – executed a near-perfect dive to win Olympic gold on Saturday in front of a crowd that included his partner, he made history. Mitcham will go down as the most significant out male Olympic athlete ever. And, like so many other things in his life, it wasn’t easy. Mitcham’s gold medal in the 10-meter platform was one of the most improbable of the Games. He needed a final dive of 112.10 points – the most ever scored in Olympic history – to snatch the gold medal from Chinese diver Zhou Luxin by 4.8 points. The door was opened when Zhou, on his final dive, got a case of nerves and scored 17 points below the average of his previous five dives.
As the scores for Mitcham’s last dive were shown inside the Water Cube, the crowd roared and Mitcham looked on in disbelief, thrusting both arms in the air, then burying his face in his hands as he sobbed. As he walked backstage to thunderous applause, the first person to embrace him was fellow Australian diver Matthew Helm. Soon, divers and coaches rushed in to hug him. Mitcham still was in disbelief as he was hugged by a female friend who said to him, “Matthew, you just won the Olympics!” Later, after the Australian national anthem was played and he had received his gold medal, Mitcham raced into the stands to embrace his mom, Vivienne, and give a bouquet of roses and a kiss to his partner, Lachlan Fletcher.
It was an amazing end to a journey that saw Mitcham quit the sport in 2006, come back in 2007 and declare himself a gay man in 2008. The 20-year-old Australian has battled depression, and partying had replaced training in his daily routine until he got back in the pool and he regained his athletic focus. In the annals of gays in Olympic sports, Mitcham is unique. Greg Louganis, considered the greatest diver ever, won multiple gold medals, but he was not out while competing; undoubtedly, there have been untold numbers of gay men who have won medals. But as they remained closeted while competing, it is Mitcham who can lay claim to the most astounding Olympic victory by an out male athlete.“I want to thank absolutely everyone who helped; my partner Lachlan and my mom [Vivienne] here to support me and watch me get gold, because it was so important to have those two people here with me,” Mitcham said in a post-dive interview. “I didn’t think I had a chance to get the gold and to actually get that was mind-blowing. I was crying thinking I had silver and to get gold, I was a blubbering mess.”
Mitcham, who came out in May despite some initial reservations, has stated repeatedly that he wanted to be known as a diver and not “the gay diver.” “Being gay and diving are completely separate parts of my life,” he said after his win. “Of course there’s going to be crossover because some people have issues. But everyone I dive with has been so supportive. I’m happy with myself and where I am. I’m very happy with who I am and what I’ve done.”
While Mitcham’s coming out tale and being the only openly gay male Olympian would seem to be a natural news angle, much of the mainstream media ignored it.
In its coverage of the final round of dives, NBC mentioned that Mitcham had battled personal issues, but never added that he was openly gay or that his partner was in the stands, both notable firsts. Nor did they show Mitcham receiving his medal and then going into the stands to hug and kiss his partner (the video was made available on NBC’s Olympic website and Mitcham’s biography on the same site mentioned the fact he is out).
This is the same network that routinely mentioned personal details about athletes during its two weeks of coverage. Wrote Maggie Hendricks on Yahoo Sports: “NBC did not mention Mitcham’s orientation, nor did they show his family and partner who were in the stands. NBC has made athletes’ significant others a part of the coverage in the past, choosing to spotlight track athlete Sanya Richards’ fiancee, a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and Kerri Walsh’s wedding ring debacle.” As of press time, NBC Sports had not responded to AfterElton.com’s request for a comment regarding their coverage of Mitcham.
Newspapers fared somewhat better. Mitcham’s sexual orientation was mentioned in Associated Press and Reuters reports, in the Los Angeles Times and most Australian publications, but not in the New York Times. Being Australian, Mitcham could not expect the same level of coverage in the American media, but NBC’s omission was still curious and drew scorn from readers of AfterElton.com, Outsports.com and from other bloggers. In celebrating his gold medal, Mitcham was at turns playful, funny and reflective, and not bashful about mentioning his partner Lachlan. The two appeared together in interviews, occasionally nuzzling as cameras clicked away. Mitcham may have been the best advertisement for the peace that can come with being out and proud.
“Just being a happier person really radiates into other areas of your life,” he said, flashing a golden smile that went well with the medal hanging around his neck.
Jim Buzinski is co-founder of Outsports.com
Editor’s note: Since NBC didn’t show Mitcham’s historic moment, here are his Gold medal winning dives, the awards ceremony, and Mitcham climbing into the stands to greet his partner and mother. Click here
August 27, 2008
The Gay Olympics: Matthew and the women
by Tony Grew
Matthew Mitcham has a somewhat dubious honour to accompany his richly deserved gold medal in diving. He appears to be the only out gay man to have competed at the Beijing Olympics, which ended on Sunday. Despite the presence in the Chinese capital of 11,000 athletes from 204 nations, there was only one who was man enough to be out of the closet. The ladies faired somewhat better, with ten lesbian or bisexual athletes competing. Six won medals. There was a gold in soccer for American Natasha Kai and a bronze for Germany’s Linda Bresonik.
Matthew Mitcham and his partner have been an inspiration to many gay young people with few positive role models. The Australian’s laid-back manner has endeared him to people across the world, and his narrative, the struggle with his personal demons and finding contentment with boyfriend Lachlan, has been one of the most compelling at the Games. The fact that American broadcaster NBC, despite their somewhat lame denials, clearly chose not to show pictures of Matthew with his boyfriend, or make any reference to his unique role in the Games, is a sad reminder of just how deep homophobia penetrates society.The USA’s Vicky Galindo and Lauren Lappin both won silvers in softball and Norwegians Gro Hammerseng and Katja Nyberg, a lesbian couple, took gold in handball. Two German lesbian athletes competed, Judith Arndt in cycling and Imke Duplitzer in fencing, along with Australian tennis player Rennae Stubbs and Sweden’s Victoria Svensson, a soccer player. With out athletes making up less than 0.1% of Olympic contestants, the Beijing Games have demonstrated the need for more to be done to encourage young athletes to be open about their sexuality.
America was not ready to see a gay athlete kissing his boyfriend. Gays are acceptable in comedy shows or decorating interiors, it seems, but not at the Olympics. Let us hope that by 2012, more athletes will feel strong enough to bring their same-sex partners to London when they compete in the greatest show on earth. Sport has been called one of the last bastions of homophobia. Until sporting stars and soccer heroes find the courage to come out of the closet it will remain so. Thanks to the example set by Matthew Mitcham, I predict many more brave and dedicated athletes will be out and proud at our Games four years from now.
September 9, 2008
Stamp of approval for gay Olympic hero
In a shocking upset, the 20-year-old diver took home a gold medal in the 10-metre platform event at the Beijing Olympics last month, beating out the Chinese favourites. Despite intensive coverage of other gold medallist’s personal lives during the Games, US broadcaster NBC failed to mention Mitcham was gay, or show footage of the diver’s partner cheering him on and congratulating him after the win.by Tony Grew
Australia has immortalised its gold medallists at the 2008 Beijing Olympics on a series of special commemorative stamps. As in previous Olympic Games, Australia Post produced a sheetlet of 50 cent Gold Medallist stamps to celebrate each gold medal won by an Australian athlete or team within 24 hours of the presentation ceremony. Among them is Matthew Mitcham, the only out gay athlete in the Games.