Who would have thought that it is easier to be gay in the world of college lacrosse than in men’s figure skating? Lacrosse is supposed to be a fratocracy of white baseball caps, homophobic jokes, and elitist idiocy. That stereotype took a major hit with a remarkable article by Andrew McIntosh, the senior captain of the lacrosse team at Oneonta State University in New York.
The piece, posted on the website Outsports, is called Despite suicidal thoughts, Oneonta lax captain Andrew McIntosh found his way out of the closet . With a great deal of humor, Andrew writes about his journey from flirting with suicide to coming out to his friends, family and team. He writes, "After I told my coach I was gay, I decided to let my co-captains know that there was a reason George Michael was on my iPod all the time. Again, they embraced me with open arms…life was normal in the showers. When we talked about our dates, I would comment on the nice arms my date had and they would talk about their girlfriends."
Today, Andrew McIntosh finally feels free. His description of his first time in a gay club alone is worth the time to read his piece. For Andrew, life is good. Johnny Weir can’t say the same. Weir came in a disappointing sixth place in men’s figure skating but those aren’t the worst of his problems. Even by the standards of ice skating, Weir is undeniably and proudly flamboyant. He chooses to be private about his sexuality, once saying, "There are some things I keep sacred. My middle name. Who I sleep with. And what kind of hand moisturizer I use."
But not officially "coming out" has hardly protected Weir from some ugly homophobic cracks by broadcasters. The Quebec Council of Gays and Lesbians is also making a formal complaint about the French-language station RDS, whose commentators Alain Goldberg and Claude Mailhot called Weir "a bad example" and said he needed to be "gender tested" like South African runner Caster Semenya. Mailhot then joked that Weir should compete in the women’s competition. It’s offensive, obnoxious, and frankly, just plain tired. Maybe Andrew McIntosh could make a trip north, sit down with Goldberg and Mailhot, and talk through the real world repercussions of such remarks.
Homophobia has long had a home in sports. It’s time for a mass eviction.