Whore Next Door: Olympic Meddle

(Photograph by Isabel Dresler/isabeldresler.com)

Back in high school, I served my last spring semester as one of the token weird kids in video yearbook class.

My best friend Ashley and I — who spent every Wednesday lunch break at the Gay Straight Alliance, and our after-school hours skipping rehearsal for the school play to watch boys skateboard — did our best to tune out the inane school-spirit chronicles we were forced to help produce. We gave them our required yearbook chapter, a music video of backstage antics of the drama club set to the song “Freaks” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and tried to keep our heads down for the rest of the school year. We focused on making stop-motion animations of Pez dispensers in a mosh pit and hoped the popular kids would leave us well enough alone.

Upon completing a chapter of the yearbook, each student would present his or her work to the class and receive feedback.

I was, however, unprepared when the time came for our classmate Travis to show everyone the chapter he’d made on the wrestling team.

I’d been to the odd football game, but that was the extent of my knowledge of after-school sports.

The video began to play, and our eyes were suddenly steeped in the horrifying reality of what high school wrestling truly looks like. Ashley and I lost our composure.

On the screen, set to an early-aughts alternative track, were the very jocks who harassed our peers, called them dykes and faggots — wearing spandex, rolling around on the floor, and apparently penetrating each other at points.

We giggled, we shook, and finally we howled and cackled at the screen. No one else seemed to see the irony or humor, possibly because they’d never been on the other side of a hateful slur flung by one of the young men being fingerblasted through his singlet.

None of the populars said a word, and our teacher threatened disciplinary action.

Even though my video yearbook class wasn’t quite ready to acknowledge the homosexual undertones of spectator sports and gymnasium culture, it’s difficult to ignore the history of nude, oiled, male-on-male grappling that originated with the ancient Greeks. It has been reported that the earliest Olympians even utilized locker rooms for cruising, leaving NSFW graffiti behind for anthropologists to snicker at to this day.

Currently, the world has stopped for a big sex-segregated party focusing on body worship and unity, bookended by a show-stopping spectacle that includes a parade of flags from every color of the rainbow. The Olympics are incredibly gay, both in their history and their modern aesthetic. Events include fencing, ping-pong, rhythmic gymnastics, and — of course — good old-fashioned swimming. (I particularly like the part when the swimmers take a shower together before they get in the pool.)

And yet, gay as the games are, many LGBTQI athletes, especially those from countries where homosexuality is criminalized, are under intense scrutiny during the games.

This year, there are more out Olympians than ever before, including Chris Mosier, the first transgender member of Team USA. But even though fewer than 50 of the 10,4400 competitors openly identify as LGBTQI — compared to the whopping seven athletes who competed in homophobic Sochi for the Winter Games two years ago — Rio 2016 is officially the gayest Olympics to date.

But rather than celebrating this accomplishment and working toward a future where every athlete can live their life openly without fear, one straight, married journalist recently posed as a gay man on Grindr to look for some action near the Olympic Village. In writing his snarky expose, he exposed several closeted athletes and made himself a Summer Olympics pariah.

Athletes devote their lives to training for what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Many sacrifice their health, safety, and personal freedom for a shot at glory and a place in history.

How dare anyone try to take that away through shame and ridicule — especially when the structure upon which the games have been built is so incredibly queer.

The Olympics are time to contemplate unity and that which makes all of us human — including firm butts, killer abs, and resilient tenacity. As we look toward the end of this year’s Summer Games, let us champion the LGBTQI athletes who have been brave enough to live and compete openly, as well as the ones who have made the choice to live their lives privately. What happens in the Olympic Village stays in the Olympic Village. We are with you, and we pray that someday we can all live, compete, and wrestle in the nude — free of shame, violence, and ridicule.

View Comments