London 2012: Nathan Adrian Wins Swimming Gold, Matthew Mitcham Plays the Waiting Game

U.S. swimmer Nathan Adrian celebrates after scoring gold on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 at the 2012 London Olympics.

Another Olympics is taking place, and I can’t believe that some of the posts I wrote four years ago are still getting tons of hits.  Two of my favorites from the Beijing 2008 Olympics are still going strong.  Nathan Adrian won gold yesterday by beating out the favored James Magnussen of Australia in the 100-meter freestyle.  If you want more of Nathan, follow him on twitter (@nathanadrian).

Out diver, Matthew Mitcham, from Australia, who won gold in the 10-meter platform in 2008, is still waiting his turn to compete, but he is already in London and tweeting big time.  His event start on Friday, the 10th.  He’s a fun guy to follow (@matthew_mitcham) and frequently add pics to his tweets.  He’s recently shown his musical talent by posting a video on youtube. 

What I wrote about Mitcham four years ago still holds true.  Read it here.

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Trip to the Outhouse–Blogging, Four Years and Counting . . . and It All Started with Hurricane Ike and Matthew Mitcham

Matthew Mitcham, having fun, before the start of the 2012 London Olympics (photo @matthew_mitcham)

It’s hard to believe that four years have gone by since I first started this blog.  It’s doubtful that I would have put in this much continued effort were it not for two big topics that I blogged about back in 2008, the devastating Hurricane Ike, which passed through southeast Texas, and gay Australian diver, Matthew Mitcham, who was a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics.

There’s not that much evidence of the extensive damage that Hurricane Ike caused, even when you head down to hard-hit Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula.  Galveston, though still trying to recover population numbers, is once again bustling with out-of-state tourists and day-trippers from nearby Houston, who are attracted by the warm water, great restaurants, and new entertainment venues.  If you take the ferry and cross to Bolivar Peninsula, you pass by new sub-divisions of beachhouses, most of which rise high off the ground to protect them from rising water.

When it comes to the second topic, Matthew Mitcham is back, once again competing in olympic diving, this time in London.   After winning his gold medal in the 10 meter platform dive, Mitcham, at age 20, became one of the most–if not the most–well-known out gay athletes in the world.  For some so young, being such a worldwide celebrity might have been a heavy load to carry.  However, Mitcham, as athlete, activist, and product spokesperson, has worn all of his hats well, and once again is back competing in the London 2012 Olympics.

While this blog attracted many readers because of my telling of the events happening to me personally and that of Houston during Hurrican Ike and the days after, thank goodness there has not been another hurricane that has headed our way in these past four years. 

On the other hand, my blogs about Mitcham’s victory in the Beijing 2012 Olympics still bring readers to this site, showing that he’s still–if not even more–popular.   I still admire Matthew Mitcham, not only because he’s such an amazing athlete and role model, but also that in spite of his célébrité, he has been able to keep a good sense of himself and just be a normal early-20s guy.

Check the early posts (2008) for more about Hurricane Ike and Matthew Mitcham on this blog.  Also a good way to keep up with Matthew Mitcham is through Twitter (https://twitter.com/matthew_mitcham), where he posts lots of photos.

How Language Bullies, But When It Might Be OK To Say “That’s So Gay”

“Say Something” seems to be Australia’s equivalent of the “It Gets Better” Project, a youtube campaign that was started Dan Savage, a Seattle columnist, after the rash of gay teen suicides last year.  “Say Something” has been set up as part of the 2011 Sydney Mardi Gras, one of the largest gay events anywhere in the world.

Matthew Mitcham, an out, gold medal diving champion in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has created his video, short though it is, for the Say Something project.  In it he advocates for eliminating the use of the phrase “It’s so gay” in a negative way.

Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this phrase used, except maybe on TV.  I’m not much around the age group, teens or younger, that probably uses this phrase.  However, I know I wouldn’t like it if I were a gay kid in middle or high school and had to hear it all the time.  Frankly, there are far worse words as derogatory syn0nyms for gay people, when they are trying to demean either gay people or even others that are not gay.

For the most part, kids use these stronger perjoratives because they got them from hearing adults say them.  When I was a kid, the “n”-word was the harshest, but  most often used, word that we called each other on the playground.  Strange though it sounds, we could use that word without admonishment, but knew better than to use “real” swear words, which today are commonplace in movies and the music on the radio.  There’s nothing surprising thses days about hearing them in so many rap and hip-hop songs, where they sort of get bleeped out.  But when I hear them come in songs like Enrique Iglesias’ latest hit, I get uncomfortable.

We used the “n”-word, not because we had ever met even one Black person, but because we heard the word at home.  “That’s so gay” seems to be somewhat like that.  The kids that use the phrase aren’t directly trying to be offensive to gay people because they are just saying something like “That’s so lame,” which was used not so long ago, and I expect, still is used by some kids.

And speaking of “lame”, what if the phrase being used were “That’s so disabled” or “That’s so physically challenged”?  Most people probably would find that more offensive than “That’s so gay.”  However, when”That’s retarded” was so popular, there weren’t too many negative ripples.

When it comes to being politically correct (though really I think it has more to do with civility than politics), it’s hard to keep up.  I seem to remember Lyndon Johnson using nigras (which doesn’t sound that different from the “n” word), and he was the President who signed the major civil rights laws in the mid-1960s.  Colored People was once OK; there’s still the NAACP.  Then there’s still the question of African-American (or Afro-American) or Black.

There’s a similar problem with people and newspapers using the term homosexual.  In fact, it has a very specific, somewhat clinical or academic meaning, but most of the time when used outside of certain fields of study, homosexual come with a negative connotation for labeling people, in a way that “colored” was once used by whites, when they knew that there was a more appropriate word.

Just like many use homosexual as a way of emphasizing the “sexual” aspect, as if that the only quality that characterizes us, they also employ the word to hit other people’s buttons that its the “same” sex.  And, “you know, doing with the same sex, well, that’s something so bad, because, you know, the preacher said it in church, and it’s in the Bible, you know.”

So it’s not are far stretch to the same negativity inherent in “That’s so gay.”  The negative connotation from homosexual is carried over to the word “gay.”

It’s really not much different than expressions that have applied to other groups.  I grew up with people using the expression of “jewing someone down,” not having any idea that it came from the negative stereotype of Jewish people.  I’m sure there are kids out there who, when comparing the sizes of dips on their ice cream cones, are screaming, “I got gypped (or jipped),” having no idea that the word came from negative stereotype of gypsies cheating or robbing people.

There are two sides to these pejoratives.  On the one hand, they make the language colorful and precise.  With the internet and other forms of technology, the English language is already being “dummied down” with all its LOLs and other shortcuts.   (Oops, can I say “dummied down”?)  On the other hand, words can hurt, and we know it.  People, especially adults, who use these words to belittle others know what they are doing. 

Newspapers, politicians, and preachers who use the word homosexual know that gay people don’t like to be called that, but they do it anyway.  In reality, it’s just a subtle way to bully.  Isn’t there a verse in the Bible that says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?  Doesn’t that mean civility and respect?

It all comes back to civility, doesn’t it?

If people want to use the line “That’s so gay,” they should really use it with the meaning “That’s so creative” because that’s a positive stereotype of gay people.  Think of all creativity put out by hair stylists (let’s go with those straight-thinking stereotypes), artists, playwrights, and composers.  Let’s don’t forget to mention Michalangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander the Great or some current creative gay people like Elton John, Ricky Martin, or Ellen Degeneres.

So maybe when (or if) you read something on here that makes you think a bit, you’ll say, “That’s so gay.”  But, hey, you gotta put the right tone in your voice or it won’t work.

Catch All of the Action at the Gay Games VIII in Cologne; Matthew Mitcham and Other Star Athletes Add to the Limelight

Michelle Ferris, Matthew Mitcham, Leigh Ann Naidoo, and John Amechi meet the press in Cologne.

Matthew Mitcham and several other star athletes have arrived in Cologne, Germany to be part of the Gay Games, which are set to start, today, July 31st.  Mitcham, from Australia and gold medal diver in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, joined former NBA player John Amechi from Great Britain, cyclist Michelle Ferris also from Australia, and beach volleyball player Leigh Ann Naidoo from South Africa to be part of the sporting event, which has gay athletes from all over the globe for the 2010 Gay Games VIII in Germany.

Mitcham hits Cologne with the "scruffy look".

While Mitcham won’t be competing in the games, he will be giving an exhibition of his diving skills from the 10-meter board.

More than 10,000 participants are expected to parade into the RheinEnergie Stadium later today for the opening ceremonies, which will be headlined by singer Taylor Dayne performing “Facing a Miracle,” which is the theme song for this year’s games.  Check it out here.  I’m sure she’ll have the whole stadium dancin’.

Catch live streaming video and everything else that’s happening at Gay Games VIII here.

Matthew Mitcham, Getting Funky, and Wins Another Gold in China, Soon To Be in Cologne for Gay Games

Matthew Mitcham and Funky Trunks

Over the weekend, the Australian diver, Matthew Mitcham picked up his second gold medal in China.  The 10-meter winner of the Beijing Olympics this time grabbed the gold in the same event in the FINA World Cup in Changzou, China, once again beating out Chinese competitors for the top place.

In other Mitcham news, the Gay Games will be starting in Cologne, Germany at the end of July and the Olympic Gold Medalist will be attending.  However, Mitcham will be there in support of the the games themselves, making appearances, but not competing.

Perhaps he will be appearing in his Funky Trunks . . . because the Australian diver has signed on to become a spokesperson/model for the swimwear company that like Mitcham hails from the “land downunder”.

View from the Suburbs: Bottle Brush Trees–Unexpected Dazzle

Today marks exactly five months since I began living in my house, though I had actually closed on it about two weeks prior.  I’m finally feeling that I’m at home; the strange feeling of being in the wrong place (no matter how happy I was to have bought the house) no longer is there.  Though there are still some remaining pictures and other decoration to be put up, I have the rooms set up as I will probably keep them for some time, and with all that, I have a warm, comfortable place in which to live.  I feel at home.

Last week, I had my first house guests, as a matter of two in one week.  A friend from Japan came and stayed overnight, and then my sister came and spent most of the weekend.  Having people in the house was fun.  I didn’t feel “squeezed” as when people had stayed with me in my apartment.  The fresh guest bedroom and bath worked well, and all the better for not having to share mine.  I’m looking forward now to having others come stay in the future.

Despite the five months’ time, there are still surprises, like the small drawers right in front of the kitchen sink to hold sponges and stoppers that I discovered for the first time last week.

Closer view of the "brushes"

A bigger surprise is the brilliance of the bottlebrush trees at the front corners of my house.  The glistening red-orange “brushes” began opening about ten days ago.  They are both loaded with buds, and I’m told, will last all through the summer into the fall.  I had only seen small bottlebrush bushes before, and none had the dazzling show that these trees are making.  Knowing nothing about them, I looked them up, finding out that they are a type of evergreen that comes from Australia.  (My guess is that’s the first time I mentioned Australia here without starting with something about Olympian diver Mathew Mitcham.)

My somewhat primitive garden is also doing well so far despite the bad, sandy soil.  I now have onions, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and even sunflowers.  So far, they are doing better than I had ever expected.  I’m hoping that this beautiful spring weather that we’ve been having–bright, mild days and cool night–will continue longer.

Trip to the Outhouse’s Top Gay People of the Biennium: Matthew, Adam, and Annise

A lot of readers who hit my blog never even take a chance at videos that I’ve got in the Radical Vid Box.  Hey, most of the videos I’ve got in there are music vids; it just happens that the most-viewed are short gay films.  If you happen by my blog, get to know my music too.  You might be surprised.

I know it’s not much of a segue, but I have been wanting to put up a Trip To The Outhouse Top Three Gay People of . . . 2009? 2010? . . . hmm?  No, I guess since I started this blog, which will soon to be about two years ago.  That’s it . . . of the Biennium!

The three people that I put in this category are Matthew Mitcham, the Australian Olympic diver who who a gold medal in the 2008 in Beijing, Adam Lambert, the runner-up in last season’s American Idol, and Annise Parker, Houston’s own new mayor.

I admire all three of them for being successes in their own endeavors and not being afraid to live their lives openly as gay people (in the same way that straight people live their straight lives openly).  Mitcham’s boyfriend, Lachlan Fletcher, was poolside during the Australian’s now famous dive and their story has been covered far and wide.  (Here’s a good one I haven’t linked to before.)   How far Adam Lambert goes is still to be seen, but he’s a good performer, and he doesn’t back down from being who he is.  The video I’ve posted is the best thing I’ve heard from him so far.  As for Annise Parker, the effects of her election to mayor go much further than just our city.

What I really like about all these people is their success counters all the what is said by all the deniers and haters out there who want to put gay people down and somehow give the idea that because of our sexuality, gay people are losers.  But people like Matthew, Adam, and Annise show just how hollow that thinking is and give positive role models to all those young gay kids who desperately need them.

(There are previous posts about all three of these great people on the blog.  Sorry, it’s late and time for bed; let your fingers do the walking.)