Friday, November 26, 2010

Coming out, being queer--and sport, of course

Oh gender and sexual identity, how you confound me! But in that good way I so enjoy.

Three things--but one thing--but kind of three.
Where to begin?
Well I've been thinking about queerness and homonormativity and voice and visibility of late. And not always in the context of sport. But all very applicable to sport.
This video has been bopping around Facebook this past week.

I like it. Because I like things that are thoughtful queer.
But I wonder what does it mean to not come out? As someone who passes in some situations, I wonder if I have a greater obligation to come out. I understand the rationale that not coming out means that the definition of normal has shifted. But does not coming out actually help in shifting the normative bar? I am all for questioning normativity. But do I reinforce normal by not coming out? And in what instances? And in this binary world we live in, can we even say normative without acknowledging that there must be a non-normative? (Questions left unanswered.)
I have taken a dislike to the "I don't like labels" and "I'm just the way I am so I don't need to come out" rhetorics when I believe there is not a lot of consciousness behind them.
Which leads me to sport. But first to Alison Bechdel.
In one of Bechdel's strips (from Dykes to Watch Out For) one of the characters says (something to the effect of--I don't have it in front of me) "Every time you don't come out, you let people think they don't know any gay people."
I don't know if this is true so much in the 21st century--at least in everyday life. (But perhaps I assume too much and am guilty of a middle-class (sub)urban conception of queerness.)
But then I thought about it in a sport context. If the queer me thinks, at least thinks she thinks, that coming out should--theoretically--be irrelevant, then why does queer me get so pissed when athletes don't come out?
Well, queer me still doesn't buy the they're out, they just didn't make an announcement because they don't need to argument. I call that the neoliberal closet.
And I just don't believe that the mainstream sport world is queer. So when an athlete doesn't come out s/he lets people go on thinking both/either that gay people don't play sports and that being gay is still something to hide or that it is some separate part of the self that does not exist on a playing field.
That's all I have right now.

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