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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Games (Gay) People Play

Wayne Besen contributes a fantastic column to PlanetOut.com about gay athletes and why some folks seem especially outraged that Chicago is hosting the Gay Games this summer. It's a must-read — find it here.

Some especially pointed excerpts:

…Peter LaBarbera of the Illinois Family Institute, a man best known for playing dress-up at gay leather parties under the auspices of "research," helped fan the flames of intolerance. He pressured the commissioners, calling the sporting event the "homosexuality games" and warned that it would lead to nudity and promiscuous behavior -- although I still can't figure out how one would be lewd or lascivious with both hands firmly attached to rowing paddles. Perhaps LaBarbera's time "undercover" in S&M porn palaces has fueled an imagination that could conjure up
such physical contortions.…

…Fortunately, the third commissioner came back from vacation and overturned the ridiculous and insulting vote. How spectacular a bigot does one have to be, after all, to virulently oppose a gay athletic event? What next: Will the Illinois Family Institute propose separate swimming pools?…

…What threatens the right wing most, however, is the 12,000 athletes that are expected at the opening ceremonies in Soldier Field. Their entire anti-gay industrial complex is fueled by stereotypes and lies about gay men and lesbians. Indeed, a central tenet of their "cure" for homosexuality is, you guessed it, playing sports. A sea of serious, committed and talented gay athletes not only challenges erroneous assumptions, but also makes the theories of the far right look every bit as ridiculous as they truly are.…

Besen also points out: "While the right is getting more fringe and shrill, corporate America is on board and paying the bills. The Gay Games has 179 sponsors, compared to a mere 50 during the last Gay Games in Sydney, Australia. This includes corporate heavyweights such as Kraft, Walgreen's and Harris Bank."

I guess that means the American Family Association will be announcing some new boycotts any day now. I must say, 179 corporate sponsors -- that's going to add up to a lot of things to avoid. Fundamentalists already have had to give up their Ford vehicles. I wonder what it's going to be like without cheese, cold medicine and their savings accounts. Ouch!

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