Stereotypes are basically huge generalizations made about a group of people. One common stereotype is that gay men adore strong female pop icons and detest pro sports. The stereotype has some truth to it because our community has a long history of loving divas like Judy Garland, Cher, and Madonna. As we all know there are plenty of gay men who love sports and hate pop music but I’d venture to say they are still in the minority. For example, on Super Bowl Sunday I still see more of my friends commenting on Beyonce’s half time show rather than the game itself. Both phenomena have existed for decades even though on paper they don’t necessarily make sense. I wonder why they started and more importantly why they continue to be true.
For clarification: Going forward I will be using the term pro sports to reference the 4 major professional sports leagues of baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. There is a note about other pro athletes at the end.
Our devotion of divas is a tale as old as time and some might even call it blind. As one of those cliché Gaga loving gays it’s easy for me to understand the attraction even though I have trouble pointing out the exact reasons. Strong female energy speaks to my soul on a subconscious level and I don’t exactly know why. I’m not attracted to women, I don’t have many female friends, and I have no wish to be or to dress up like a woman so why do they bring me such gay joy? If you look at my iTunes library the ratio of female to male artists is 10 to 1. When I recently saw the new Batman vs Superman movie the only thing I liked was the introduction of Wonder Woman. I found the rest the movie to be boring and I didn’t care about or identify with either of the male leads. However Wonder Woman instantly caught my attention. My gold wrist cuffs are ready for 2017.
For every gay man that loves Madonna there is also gay man that hates pro sports. We’ve seen this countless times on screen with the classic trope of the sissy who’s afraid of sports. Think of the movie The Birdcage or Jack from Will & Grace. These media representations often exaggerate our hatred of sports into something comical but in reality I’ve observed it to be more of a disinterest. Many gay men I know don’t have anything against pro sports but there is just a general lack of engagement and interest. Again I totally understand this reaction although I can’t exactly explain why. You could assume most gay men are more interested in the arts and have a natural aversion to organized physical activity. (another stereotype) However that theory is quickly proven wrong when you look at the enormous number of local gay sports leagues around the country. There are large tournaments with hundreds of guys signing up to play. If that many gay men are willing to play sports then why aren’t as many willing to watch sports? In theory you could expect gay men to love watching pro sports if for no other reason than to stare at all the sexy athletes. If you like bears watch football and if you’re a chocolate chaser watch basketball. There’s something for everyone. In theory it makes sense but in reality the connection isn’t as strong. Why aren’t guys like Prince Fielder and John Kuhn adored as much as much as Britney and Beyonce?
I wonder if gay men are subconsciously reacting to the lack of acceptance from the pro sports industry. Recently I came across an article about David Denson who has become the first openly gay player in baseball. As I read the article I discovered Denson plays on a minor league team for the Milwaukee Brewers and he came out last August in the local paper. If he makes it to the majors he’ll be the first openly gay player in major league baseball history. I applaud Denson for his courage at being the first in his sport to come out but I was struck by the fact that in 2016 we are just now getting the first openly gay baseball player. It’s absolutely ridiculous that it’s taken this long. Baseball isn’t alone in the delay. It wasn’t until basketball player Jason Collins took the lead in 2013 as the first openly gay pro athlete. A year later football player Michael Sam followed suit and came out in 2014. No out players unitl 2013? That’s total bullshit. To put that into perspective musician K. D. Lang came out publically in 1992 and Ellen’s famous coming out episode aired on tv in 1997. I refuse to believe that Jason Collins was the first ever gay man to play on a professional team. I have nothing but respect for all three men but as a community pro sports is severely lacking in acceptance. I suspect this lack of acceptance has quietly alienated gay fans for decades. Why should we support them when they won’t even acknowledge us?
On the flip side female entertainers have a long history of supporting gay causes. Many point to Judy Garland’s death as a major catalyst to the Stonewall riots that happend on the same day. Madonna was famously influenced by New York’s ballroom culture and produced the epic hit song Vogue. Flash forward to 2016 and to Lady Gaga who has spoken at length about equality and her support of gay rights. Last year Miley Cyrus performed and her stage full of drag queens stole the show. (She has also started a charity for homeless gay youth) Even non pop stars like Elizabeth Taylor stood by us before anyone else. She spoke out and advocated for AIDS research back in the early 80’s when most people wouldn’t even acknowledge it as a problem. The list goes on and on. Maybe we’ve gravitated to these female icons because they’ve welcomed us with open arms. Maybe our devotion isn’t as blind as some people think. Maybe we ignore pro sports because they have a long history of ignoring us. Maybe the divas and the athletes themselves are the real reason the stereotypes exist and continue.
Above I mentioned Prince Fielder and John Kuhn. Being a cliche queen I’m clueless when it comes to sports so I had to ask my Facebook friends for the names of some hot athletes specifically for that sentence. Quickly after posting the flood gates opened and I had a very long list of guys to choose from. Clearly I hit a nerve. One thing I found utterly fascinating was that the majority of hot guys provided were from niche sports. Bobsledding, shot put, power/weight lifting, and rugby were all well represented much more than the the 4 major sports. Football and baseball got some love while basketball and hockey were completely ignored. I think this proves two points. First, gay men have a very strong thirst for hot athletes that has been totally untapped so far. Football and baseball could really get a spike in ticket sales if they catered to these horny fans. Second, it slightly reinforces the idea that gay men still avoid major league pro teams. There may be a future blog post brewing there.