Slog: News & Arts

RSS icon Comments on Gay Men Don't Win Gold Medals, Do They?


I have written to NBC many times in the past objecting to the "conservative" slant of their news. I will write again.

Posted by Vince | August 25, 2008 8:16 AM

I don't agree that NBC "went out of its way to point out the boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives", but they did dedicate a bizarrely disproportionate number of prime-time hours to diving.

Rather than an anti-gay conspiracy, I'd be more likely to blame this on NBC's USA-centric obsession with the two US kids combined with false certainty that the Chinese would sweep resulting in an oversight to put together a AUS human interest blurb.

But that video you posted was great.

Posted by josh | August 25, 2008 8:34 AM

Also, Bisexual (and totally HOT) striker Natasha Kai won gold with the US women's soccer. I can't claim to have watched every minute of Olympic coverage, but I can't imagine there was any mention of that. Although, to be fair, she doesn't have a girlfriend to speak of.

But it would have been nice for all the young gay boys out there to see an actual out gay male athlete succeeding. Ok, it was diving, but for dog's sake we gotta start somewhere...

Posted by Mike in MO | August 25, 2008 8:37 AM

Maybe NBC is so tolerant and accepting that they don't even have to mention the existence of LGBT people - just the Democratic Party.

The Party's platform mentions lofty goals with the implication that they refer to the inclusion of the gays by talking about these things, but not mentioning anyone specifically.

It's the same for NBC. The network might focus some narrative on the hetero relations of Olympians and if they don't mention any gay stuff specifically then the audience should just assume the unmentionable gayness of it all.

We expect inclusion from television networks, but not from our political leaders.

Posted by patrick | August 25, 2008 8:41 AM

And thus the value of these and other blogs.

Yes, it would have been nice to hear that Mitcham was gay and that his partner had supported him through the tough times...maybe even to learn during color commentary that he's a power bottom who enjoys snowballing.

But short of that, SLOG and Towleroad and Joe.My.God. and nearly every other online progressive and/or LGBT news site has mentioned it and run clips of the coverage.

As we move more and more online for our news, what the networks choose to illuminate or not illuminate becomes incrementally less important.

Hooray for Matthew Mitcham!

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | August 25, 2008 8:46 AM

The swimming commentators went on and on about that stupid love triangle that involved two female swimmers--from France and Italy, I think--and a coach or some other man. And apparently they did a little blurb about why some Irish boxer's mom wasn't in China (visa problems). And, of course, they went on and on about those 2 women beach volleyball players and how they met their husbands and blah blah.

Unfortunately we missed the coverage of Mr. Mitcham here winning gold. But we watched him win on the internet! So talented. And cute, too!

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | August 25, 2008 8:49 AM

[optimism]Maybe they thought it was obvious that he was, thus not necessary to point out?[/optimism]

Posted by Jeremy from Seattle | August 25, 2008 8:51 AM

here's our video of the medals ceremony, mark jumps up into the audience at the end to kiss his mom and boyfriend.

Posted by nbc | August 25, 2008 8:51 AM


We'd rather not moderate your comments, but off-topic, gratuitously inflammatory, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate remarks may be removed, and repeat offenders may be banned from commenting. We never censor comments based on ideology. Thanks to all who add to the conversation on Slog.

And no, I don't feel like letting it go.

Posted by The Incredible Sulk | August 25, 2008 8:54 AM

I could do without the human interest back stories, whether straight or gay. They are athletes, period.

Posted by Boyd main | August 25, 2008 8:56 AM

While it was weird that NBC showed so much diving in primetime while neglecting other really cool shit like javelin, I enjoyed watching it anyway. I'd never heard of Mitcham before the 10M platform final, and I jumped out of my chair when he won. He's just so adorable.

What a great accomplishment, dethroning the Chinese divers who had been so dominant in this competition, and what an even greater shame that NBC chose, for political reasons, not to mention the people most important to him, who are in many ways responsible for his success.

Posted by MK | August 25, 2008 9:01 AM

'sulk puppetry'... good one.

Posted by drewl | August 25, 2008 9:07 AM

It would be interesting to conduct a pole surveying the level of interest to athlete's loved ones. My guess is that NBC has to fill many hours of airtime, so they go w/ stories akin to "Cat stuck in tree". Personally, I would rather see attention to lesser viewed events such as javelin, shotput, etc. rather than stories about the athletes loved ones, or who they've been canoodling with in the village.

Posted by world classic | August 25, 2008 9:08 AM

For once, I actually appreciated Ron Judd's columns in the Times. He was right that NBC's coverage was seriously lacking all around.

Posted by Greg | August 25, 2008 9:12 AM

If you take a further look, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age did stories that went way beyond what NBC or any other prime news outlet in the US would do if one of our gay athletes (and there are some) were to come out or score a medal. I'm not including those that come out after the fact.

Talking about a gay gold medalist is no different that talking about a Jamaican runner, the Chinese making a run at sweeping the medals.

Posted by Dave Coffman | August 25, 2008 9:17 AM

"It would be interesting to conduct a pole"

one track minds...

Posted by and if he was ugly? | August 25, 2008 9:17 AM
Posted by Dave Coffman | August 25, 2008 9:21 AM

It's diving . . . aren't they all gay?

Posted by Ed | August 25, 2008 9:36 AM

sorry guys, we thought that that we covered this by mentioning that he was a teen trampoline champion and showing all of the divers showering and hot tubbing together between dives. our mistake.

Posted by nbc | August 25, 2008 9:40 AM

Mitcham was really, really good, too. I'm no diving expert, but I ended up watching loads of it, and he looked phenomenal.

Posted by Abby | August 25, 2008 9:41 AM

I'll bet Olympics coverage would be 100x better if it was on HBO.

Posted by Mahtli69 | August 25, 2008 9:44 AM

He's gay?

First I heard of it was online here.

Man, US media censorship sucks.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 25, 2008 9:46 AM

It seems to me they went out of their way to not report on anything that might bother the Chinese or more conservative viewers -- like the arrests of people just applying for protest permits.

I tried to keep an open mind about China having the Olympics and NBC's job of showing them, but in the end it was business as usual.

Posted by ahava | August 25, 2008 9:47 AM

I don't know why the hell more of them aren't openly gay. Those divers are the epitome of the glass closet. I clicked on a link to see a 360 panorama of the swimming cube, and the narrator was such a fairy. I assumed the narrator was Mitchum, because I vaguely remembered there being one openly gay diver, but nope, it was the guy who took fifth.

He certainly sounds like the kind of queeny boy I dig, and all I could think was, "What's the point of you being closted? It's about as effective as RuPaul claiming he's straight."

Posted by Gitai | August 25, 2008 10:16 AM

I blame Greg Louganis.

Posted by DOUG. | August 25, 2008 10:21 AM

Could he be any more of a 12 year old girl? But what better spokesman to throw reality in the face of China, the US and the world? Yes, some gay men are queeny -- and they can beat your ass. I can live with that statement.

Posted by whatevernevermind | August 25, 2008 10:49 AM

I think the thing that bothered me about NBC coverage of this looking back is that they danced around it. The mentioned him leaving the sport for a while and having personal problems. They mentioned the reporter he hugged after he won, that he appreciated her reporting on his personal issues sensitively. But they just wouldn't come out and actually say he was gay. Learning later he was made all those oblique references clear, but why they had hide it made no sense.

Posted by Amanda | August 25, 2008 10:56 AM

@26 - you mean 14 yo ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 25, 2008 11:21 AM

I saw his face on Sullivan, so when the diving came on that night I watched. What an outstanding finish, almost scripted; the perfect Chinese faltering at the very end, giving the Aussie a chance to win with a perfect dive, which he nailed. Great story. Diving is a pretty cool sport; I don't agree they covered it too much. There's a lot of it to cover. What they covered too much was BEACH VOLLEYBALL, which is ten times more embarrassing than synchronized swimming OR rhythmic gymnastics.

Posted by Fnarf | August 25, 2008 11:22 AM

I think the main point about "are they or aren't they [gay/left-handed/albino/Mormon/pitt bull owners]?" is that everyone who gets to the Olympics has made great sacrifices. They have worked their butts off, and have been supported emotionally and financially by parents, partners, girl & boyfriends, teachers, coaches, colleagues. So when they do achieve sweet victory, how much sweeter it is to share that victory with your various "lovers".

Does anyone honestly believe that if Michael Phelps were out and gay that NBC, Collingsworth, Costas, would have literally drooled all over him and his mother as much as they did? Seriously.

But if it's OK for Matt Lauer (local DL connection?) and Al Roker to perform a silly mockery of coordinated unitarded ribbon twirling, then maybe it's OK to show Matt Mitcham's boyfriend hugging and kissing in reward for undoubted perfection.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | August 25, 2008 12:16 PM

NBC just gave Rachel Maddow her own hourly news show and she is an out lesbian.

I agree that if he was an American we might have heard more of his story, but it's not like he won the gold "in spite" of being gay.

He won because he was the best! Not because he was the best gay guy (that would be Dan.)

Posted by elswinger | August 25, 2008 12:31 PM

@22 - I am shocked, simply shocked to hear that admission of ignorance from a Fremonter. If our own oxen weren't being Gored, we ourselves would be lucky to know how to come in from out of the rain.

Posted by IT'S MATTHEW MITCHAM | August 25, 2008 1:09 PM

@28 - I'd like to think most 14 year old girls are a little more grounded. No, he's much more of a tween. It's the double-handed hello wave that cinches it for me.

I can't imagine being that happy, that free and that loved. Good for him. He can be my spokesman any day.

Posted by whatevernevermind | August 25, 2008 7:19 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.