Finding queer athletes to look up to at the Olympics is akin to looking for a four-leaf clover. Occasionally one will appear, but they are rare, mysterious and guarded. Many athletes can’t afford to come out because it could be detrimental to their career and result in the loss of support from their countries.
If we don’t know who is queer, we definitely know who is straight. Olympic coverage is hell bent on broadcasting any signs of heterosexuality in both the male and female athletes.
This was evident in the amount of media coverage American Beach Volleyball player Kerri Walsh received when she lost her wedding ring during a qualifying match over the weekend.
Her ring was eventually found by a volunteer and returned promptly. Commentators mentioned the ring repeatedly during another match on Monday night, as well as Walsh’s husband.
The whole event was just one of those things that bring the audience in and inspire a connection to an athlete and not just a sport, but I couldn’t help but think that a possible reason NBC spent so much airtime on a lost and found wedding ring was to counteract the attention Walsh and Misty May got in 2004 for their extended victory embrace.
It was two toned, beautiful, barely-clothed girls rolling around in the sand in each other’s arms in a moment of passion and celebration. And it was hot.
That clip also got aired and re-aired and Walsh and May hit the radar of lesbians around the world.
This time around the media is focused on leaving no room for error in terms of Walsh and May’s sexuality. With both married since the Athen’s games, commentators use every opportunity to talk about their marriages to men.
Which is fine, I just don’t think it would be that way if their significant others were women.