The OutField: Looking back at 2010

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As another year winds down, The OutField’s inbox fills up.  Here are a few stories from 2010 we had no space for – but that merit a big ol’ LGBT shout-out.

“Gay” and “NASCAR” are rarely used in the same sentence. But if we truly are everywhere, that includes stock-car speedways. And Michael Myers makes sure we connect with each other, above the roar of race cars.

Queers4Gears.com is a website for gay NASCAR fans – though all are welcome. It features photos, race reports, even discount ticket deals. It’s been named one of NASCAR’s top 50 blogs.

“NASCAR fans have been more accepting of (Myers) being gay than gay people have been accepting of his being a NASCAR fan,” the site says of the 37-year-old founder.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, Myers “acknowledges that gay male race fans are attracted to stock car drivers the way straight female race fans are.” However, he adds, it’s really just about the races.

“I’m not there to ask drivers what they think about gay marriage,” he says. “I’m there to ask them about racing.”

Another oxymoron could be “gay professional baseball umpire.” But when a manager attacked an out ump with anti-gay language, it was the manager who suffered most.

The Golden Baseball League incident began in July, when Billy Van Raaphorst ejected Edmonton Capitals manager Brent Bowers for repeatedly objecting to a call. Bowers raced over, called Van Raaphorst a “fucking faggot,” and asked, “Do you take it up the fucking ass?” (Just to make sure there was no mistake, Bowers bent over and grabbed his ankles.)

The tirade continued, with the manager saying, “I ought to kick your ass, you faggot.” The league suspended Bowers for two games. Van Raaphorst’s fellow umpires thought the punishment was insufficient and threatened to walk out.

The league then suspended Bowers for the rest of the season – and fined him $5,000. The Capitals’ owner – who also owns the National Hockey League Edmonton Oilers – supported Van Raaphorst and the league against its now-former manager.

Then – recognizing a “golden” opportunity when they saw it – the owners announced plans to provide diversity training for all its baseball and hockey staffs.

In more gays-and-baseball news, a group of gay men and lesbians got fed up watching the St. Louis Cardinals’ hetero-only “Kiss Cam.” That’s the traditional shot shown on an enormous scoreboard of a man and woman passionately smooching. A cute little heart is superimposed on the shot, and cute little music plays.

Big deal, huh?

To David Whitley – a columnist for MLB.Fanhouse.com, a national website – it was.

“I can’t help sympathizing with that father who’ll be sitting next to his son or daughter at Busch Stadium,” the not-very-empathic dad/fan/writer wrote.

“Daddy, why are those two men kissing?” he imagined a child saying.
“Umm, err, hey isn’t that Albert Pujols coming to bat?” he figured would be the only possible reply.

“I’m not ready to discuss same-sex relationships with my 3-year-old,” he wrote. “I don’t think she’s ready, either.” Using that logic, he would have to discuss opposite-sex relationships every time the “Kiss Cam” showed two straight people making out.

Scrambling to avoid charges of homophobia, he added: “If my daughter grows up and falls happily in love with another woman, I’ll proudly walk her down the aisle.” Chances are, though, he’d first have to get over his daughter’s fear that he wouldn’t, in fact, be proud – based on his reaction, years earlier, when daughter and dad watched two women doing the exact same thing straight people do every day, at every ballpark in America.

Finally, from the Stand-Up-And-Cheer Department: For the fifth consecutive year, the Gene and John Athletic Fund of Stonewall has awarded a scholarship to an outstanding gay athlete. This year’s recipient is Jessica Leigh Weather.

At the University of Florida, Jessica studied six languages. A runner, she has completed two marathons, three half-marathons and a half-Ironman triathlon. She’s a swimmer too, with a 12.5-mile swim around Key West and 8-mile swim through Boston Harbor and a relay swim of the English Channel to her credit.

She hopes to compete in the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland.

Jessica is currently enrolled in Duke University’s Physician Assistant Program. Her goal is to specialize in pediatrics.

“My knowledge of the mental and physical benefits of athletics, along with my first hand understanding of the spectrum of sexuality, will make me a unique asset to the field for the next generation of youth, both straight and LGBT.”

Including those who aspire to be NASCAR drivers, baseball umpires, or kiss their same-sex partner in public.

*Dan Woog is a journalist, educator, soccer coach, gay activist, and author of the “Jocks” series of books on gay male athletes. Visit his website at www.danwoog.com. He can be reached care of this publication or at [email protected]

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