Gay Athlete or Jock Fantasy?

By Lavender May 9, 2008

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I’ve noticed that gay men have this habit of making things hypersexual. I only seem to notice this in gay men’s sports.

If a gay men’s team is having an event, they show you a flier with a hot muscle guy beckoning you to join them for what is promised to be a stellar party. Now, I’m sure most of us out there are not so naive as to think we really are going to run into any of the guys who appear on the flier at any of these events. We go because we want to support our favorite team, right?

These guys have hit their target: gay men. They know their audience.

But, what about people who are not gay?

Do gay men’s teams need to consider what the straight public who pick up on these ads might think?

Even given the local focus of these events, no matter where in the country they are held, do these kinds of ads reflect negatively on gay men, and thus make it harder for them to be accepted in mainstream sports at all levels, particularly, professional sports?

I think so.

Consider recruiting. Gay men’s sports teams also use oversexed advertising to recruit people. Again, by playing the sport, you are not necessarily going to become a hot muscle-God, or even meet any.

When you look at how predominantly straight men’s teams recruit, it is very different. I am sure it won’t come as much of a shock, but they typically do not advertise by flashing suggestive images of half-naked men on their fliers with some tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendo as a tag line.

So, what else do these teams have to offer?

I argue that they have to recruit players based on desire to play the game; a goal to build a competitive team; and, maybe, the promise of beer. Whatever the method is, it is decidedly nonsexual. Yet, these teams manage to recruit players—and good players at that—at all levels of play.

When I think about gay men in sports, my mind does not shift automatically to sex. But, it does shift to thoughts of sexuality. Many gay male sports teams represent themselves less as athletes, and more as a social group, interested in the fantasy of a hot muscle-jock.

Is something to be said about the integrity of one’s sport and of his team if it is promoted primarily via sexual innuendo, instead of skill and a desire to build a fun, social, yet decidedly competitive, team?

We all love our local sports teams, gay or straight.

But, are we gay athletes even a blip on the radar of predominantly straight teams in our same sports?

Can a gay men’s team, even a recreational one, be taken seriously and admired in a straight-dominated sporting world, when so many gay men promote their team, their league, and their sport in a manner that straight men would find offensive to them as athletes, much less culturally threatening? Would it matter if they didn’t?

Does this stereotypically gay attitude, multiplied by the multitude of gay teams and gay athletes all over the country, contribute to so few openly gay men playing in professional sports?

Food for thought.

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