A reflection on Canada Day, Pride Month and the upcoming summer Olympic games: Can Canadian athletes be openly gay?

Pride House Vancouver 2010 Grad Opening

Two years ago, I attended the opening of Olympic Pride House, a safe haven for queer athletes worldwide who would be participating in the Vancouver and Whistler 2012 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. It made me swell with pride (pun intended) because the mere existence of an Olympic Pride House was pioneered by Canadians, in the city that I have called home for more than a decade, Vancouver. It showcased how open-minded and amazing Vancouverites (and Canadians in general) are. Gay marriage has been valid for more than a decade in Canada, and it’s been a nation that has pioneered rights.

BC Pavilion Pride House eventYet, as our hearts swell with pride for our Canadian athletes, a question lingers in my head: why aren’t we hearing much about Canadian queer athletes? I am pretty sure that, just probabilistically, there *must* be some queer athletes in the Canadian delegation. And yes, I know that their sexual orientation has nothing to do with their athletic prowess. But I haven’t seen much emphasis on the queer aspects of competitive sports. Being a gay athlete still has a lot of stigma attached. Admittedly, an openly gay former athlete is the chef de mission (Mark Tewskbury, an idol of mine and someone I have met in person before).

Mark is amazing and I think his work has been groundbreaking in furthering the good fight. In enabling any Canadian athletes who may be queer be openly so.

I don’t have an answer to this question, but it is burning in my head and in my heart. Matthew Mitcham was one of very few openly gay athletes at the last Summer Olympic games (and he became an Olympic Diving Champion). It’s 2012. Isn’t it high time that we have more openly gay athletes?

Related posts:

  1. A reflection on #GLBT rights on Pride Month in Vancouver 2012
  2. Pride Toronto 2012 (June 22nd-July 1st)
  3. Games People Play: Curated Visual Arts Exhibition and the Pride in Art Community Show
  4. Pride House Vancouver 2010 Opening
  5. Pride in Fashion (upcoming event, Thurs July 30th, 2009)

Comments (1)

Kevin JaggerJuly 2nd, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Its less a question of hearing more about queer athletes and more why you are not hearing about athletes in general. An athlete’s personal relationship, and certainly their sexual orientation, has nothing to do with their sport or why they would make news, nor should it be.

There are lots of gay / openly gay athletes. Here are some you may not have heard of, it has less to do with them being gay and more to do with them fighting to make headlines like ever other amateur athlete:

Sarah Vaillancourt, Canada – Hockey
Danielle Goyette, Canada – Hockey
Nancy Drolet, Canada – Hockey
Brian Orser (Olympic Silver Medallist), Canada – Figure Skating

From other countries:
Ireen Wust (Olympic Gold Medallist), Netherlands – LT Speed Skating
Blake Skjellerup, New Zealand – ST Speed Skating
Johnny Weir, United States – Figure Skating
Sanne van Kerkhof, Netherlands – ST Speed Skating
Vibeke Skofterud, Norway — Cross-country Skiing
Erika Holst, Sweden — Hockey
Josh Dixon, United States – Gymnastics

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