“Stumblin'” into Memories of Neil Young via Austrialia; What IS Matthew Mitcham Up To These Days? And ‘Faker’–Nothin’ Fake about It

One of the first “real” albums that I ever had (not cassette) was Neil Young’s Harvest, and I’d play “Heart of Gold” countless times on end. By chance, this morning, I found a cover of that song done by Australian Lior and Canadian Serena Ryder. It’s a rendition that will give a shiver to any Neil Young or Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young fan.

I stumbled upon a little bit about Lior, who is an Israeli-born, Australian singer-songwriter, who seems to play mostly in concert, so there are not a lot of videos that are not just from concert takes. One, “Superficial”, which is what I’d call more “Indie” type, I like a lot, so I put in my Vid Box, which you can click into on the right. It’s not an “official” vid but it’s pretty cool, nonetheless. If you want more of Lior’s stuff, check out his “Burst Your Bubble”, which you can find on youtube and also myspace.

I say “stumbles” because I was looking to see what has been happening with our Australian diving guy, Matthew Mitcham. At the moment, he is competing the FINA Diving World Series; the most recent leg of this competition was held at Pond’s Forge, Sheffield, English, where Mitcham placed fourth in what appears to have been an event loaded with the world’s best divers.

Nathan Hudson, lead singer of Faker

Nathan Hudson, lead singer of Faker

Another of this morning’s “stumbles” landed upon the Australian band, Faker, who for a better description, I’d call “the 80s done up in an ’09 ‘do'”. Check out a couple versions of “This Heart Attack” on my Vid Box; the Miami Horror Remix is definitely worth a couple of listens. Also check out Faker’s myspace page. And yes, Faker’s lead singer, Nathan Hudson, is another gay Australian who came out about a year ago.

As I said in a previous post, if I were back in high school, I’d have Matthew Mitcham’s pic slapped somewhere inside my locker; I’d also go out and buy some of Faker’s music (latest album is Be the Twilight), but, hey! maybe I’ll go to that today–and I’ve been out of high school along time.

Snowy Denver Trip Brings a Change of Pace

The street below my window during the storm.

The street below my window during the storm.

This has some of the image scraped off, but it's a very descriptive illustration warning about falling on the ice.

This has some of the image scraped off, but it's a very descriptive illustration warning about falling on the ice.

Over the past few days, a work-related conference took me to Denver . The trip was busy, fairly tiring, but overall worthwhile.

I hadn’t been to Denver since going to see Fleetwood Mac at Mile High Stadium back in the late 70s. Plus, the day after my arrival, the city was hit with what everyone there said was the biggest snowstorm of the year. Therefore, I can’t say how much Denver has changed in all those years.

One of the many people walking dogs out in the snow.

One of the many people walking dogs out in the snow.

However, despite the hectic schedule and the winter elements, Denver seems to be a clean, people-friendly city. The downtown is easy to maneuver on foot, the people are friendly, and I felt safe walking around. Sixteenth Street has been made into a pedestrian area, with the only vehicles being free buses, which traverse its length in both directions. They stop for riders at every block making it easy to get around, even in the cold weather.

A scene of the street from the skywalk from my hotel.  Some of the dots are snowflakes; others are melted flakes on the outside of the glass.

A scene of the street from the skywalk from my hotel. Some of the dots are snowflakes; others are melted flakes on the outside of the glass.

The city and the private sector do a great job of clearing the snow from the streets and sidewalks even in the midst of the storm. Another big difference that I noticed is how “green-friendly” the city is. Compartmentalized trash containers everywhere are set up for recycling.

On the other hand, even the snow was an exciting change (I didn’t say an “enjoyable” change) and the city looks to be very livable, the cold was not pleasant at all, and even worse for me was the dry air. I began to notice how much water I needed to drink to keep my mouth and lips from drying out, and even though my skin sponged up every drop of creme that I had taken along, it still feel like sandpaper.

Saturday morning on the 16th Street Mall.  There is an almost festive atmosphere, with lots of people, including street muscians and vendors.

Saturday morning on the 16th Street Mall. There is an almost festive atmosphere, with lots of people, including street muscians and vendors.

I really didn’t have the chance to take very many scenic pictures, though when I did get some glimpses, the mountains covered with snow were a beautiful sight. Therefore, these more “artsy” shots (well, “artsy” might be a bit of a stretch) and the little video will have to do.

Now both Annie (she stayed in Houston) and I are back together, and both of us are recuperating from our stay away from home .

Matthew Mitcham–Now There’s a Picture I Would Hang in My Locker

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.

Mitcham receives congratulations from his boyfriend Lachlan Fletcher after receiving his gold medal in Beijing.

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.

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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.