On Saturday, when I first saw the results of the 10-meter platform dive, I decided to post the results here because I was excited about it, but I thought only the few people who read my blog would see it. Then ka-boom. I see the counter showing all these hits. At first, they were just mostly from Australia, then some from the US. By Sunday, the counter started spinning off its wheels (my blog’s wheels usually turn pretty slowly). I was getting hits from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Panama, Turkey, Russia, even the Congo! I couldn’t believe it.
Then I started to realize that there were lots of people excited about Matthew’s win. I’d read the article in the Advocate about him earlier, and was hoping he’d get some kind of medal. However, knowing about the prowess of the Chinese in diving and the fact that the Olympics were being held in Beijing, I didn’t figure that anyone really had much of a chance against them–for sure, not the gold. Then there on Saturday morning (at least Saturday morning Houston time), here’s this young gay guy from Australia standing on the podium receiving the gold medal!
I had my own emotional moment, and proceeded to write the results here.
Unfortunately, we here in the US (I don’t know about other places) didn’t get to see him give his honorary roses to his boyfriend Lachlan Fletcher in the stands, nor did we see the interview after his win with his mother and Lachlan at his side. Nor did we get to see one of the nicest moments, when he rested his head on Lachlan’s shoulder for a moment. Not that any of this was out of the ordinary, for a winning athlete to have his loved ones at his side after the victory. But rare, indeed, and truly wonderful for a gay athlete to be able to acknowledge and be acknowledged by his loved ones on camera. For me, it was one those great moments.
I hope it’s going to be one of those pivotal events that makes changes–changes for a lot of people, especially young people. It’s time for them to have a hero–these kids in school who catch all the flack because they’re gay, or even just presumed to be gay.
Yes, there have been out gay athletes in the Olympics before. And, yes, there were a number of other out gay medal winners this year in Beijing–all in team sports and all women, and they are to be congratulated and greatly supported, as well they should be. However, this is a situation comparable to the one in show business. It’s great that Ellen Degeneres can dance across the stage on her award-winning talk show and get married to her girlfriend and have the whole world smitten. When Anderson Cooper or someone of the same ilk has the “cojones” to do the same, the other half of the gay population will have its day too.
I’m sure there are those out there who will say, “I don’t need a ‘gay hero’; I don’t need anyone famous to be “out” because I’m fine with myself. Anyway, it’s something private.”
Well, I admit I need it, and I’m sure I’m not alone. (I’m sure of that because of all the interest shown not only on this blog, but because of all of the articles about Matthew’s win published everywhere in the past couple of days.)
But even more so, kids need it. These kids that get called names, pushed around, or much worse–they need it. They need to see that it’s OK to be who you are, that it’s not weird to have the support of your boyfriend when you do something great or not so great, that you can be gay and have your parents be openly proud of what you do and who you are. I’m sure there are lots of gay kids with great supportive parents, but there are many who are searching for something positive–something that shows being gay is just one part of a person, and everybody can make goals and reach them, and still be a whole person, without hiding any part.
Because of that, Matthew Mitcham’s win has a greater importance than just that of his own personal success. I don’t know how many more athletes there will be coming out in the near future, but I’m sure his victory and example will be an inspiration to help open that door, not just for athletes but any kid.
I know if I were 16 again and still in high school, I’d stick a picture of Matthew Mitcham’s winning dive on the inside of my locker door.
Read more about this Olympian: Matthew Mitcham Story About To Hit the Newstands: Olympic Win and Life After the Olympics
Check here if you’re looking for a photo of Matthew and Lachlan.
Filed under: It's What I Like, Politics and Gay Topics Tagged: | Anderson Cooper, Australia, Australian, Beijing Olympics, boyfriend, diver, diving, ellen degeneres, gay, gay athlete, gay hero, GLBT, gold medal, Lachlan Fletcher, matthew mitcham, photo, sports, The Advocate