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Sports: Gay Male  
 
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The week-long event commanded unprecedented coverage of gays and lesbians in sports. The daily newspapers in the city covered the Games from several angles and printed schedules and results. The city's television stations produced features, including one in which they interviewed gay athletes playing flag football about their reaction to the news that the quarterback of the New York men's team was straight. In a sense the tables had been turned.

The Gay Games in 1994 were also notable for the crossover into the gay sports scenes of open athletes from mainstream sports. A spokesman for the Games was Bruce Hayes, a swimmer who won a gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Hayes would go on to set recognized master's swimming records at the Gay Games.

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Tennis great Martina Navratilova, an open lesbian on the women's professional tour, also lent her star power to publicize the event. But the biggest revelation at the Games came from Greg Louganis, who publicly came out, ending years of speculation.

There has probably never been a better male Olympic diver than Louganis. He won two gold medals at the 1984 Summer Games and two more in 1988. As he revealed in his 1995 autobiography Breaking the Surface, during his years of competitive diving Louganis wrestled with his sexuality. The Gay Games seemed an appropriate forum for him to come out. When Louganis also revealed that he was HIV-positive, the story was again front-page news.

America seemed to be growing more tolerant of gay athletes in its midst, but the situation, for at least one athlete, was far better in Australia. Ian Roberts, a star in the rugged and macho world of rugby, came out in 1995 while at the top of his game. His general acceptance by the other players and fans was a signal that the playing field was becoming safe for some elite gay athletes.

Roberts never shied from discussing his homosexuality or confronting the myths that help to keep many gay athletes deeply in the closet. "I take offense at the old locker room argument which assumes a man cannot, in any circumstances, control his urges," Roberts said in a 1996 interview. "Any self-respecting human being can respect the rights and ways of another human being. The idea, then, that gays can convert, or want, heterosexual guys, is ludicrous. We want to play the game, not the field."

While Roberts excelled in the hyper-masculine world of rugby, Rudy Galindo was a champion in figure skating, a sport where artistry counts as much as athleticism and where rumors of homosexuality have always thrived. Not only had Curry and Cranston come out publicly, but other skaters had been widely known as gay, at least among skating circles.

Hence, Galindo's coming out was not exactly earth-shattering news, but its timing was perfect. He came out just as he won the U.S. men's figure skating title before his hometown crowd in San Jose, California, in 1996.

Galindo's story became familiar to many with the publication the following year of his book, Icebreaker: The Autobiography of Rudy Galindo. The skater was back in the news in April 2000, when he told USA Today that he was HIV-positive.

In 1998, Canadian Mark Tewksbury, who set a world record in the backstroke at the 1992 Olympics, came out publicly. He would go on to become a gay activist and one of the founders of Outgames.

Within a seven-month period from September 1999 to April 2000, the New York Times twice featured articles about openly gay male athletes on its front page. And both of these athletes were subsequently featured on various national television news programs.

One was about Billy Bean, who played professional baseball for three teams before retiring in 1995, primarily, he said, because he didn't want to continue living a lie. Bean has talked about the split personality he was forced to exhibit, which included playing a game grief-stricken on the same day his lover died.

Bean's story, which originally appeared in the Miami Herald but took on national status with the Times' prominent treatment, struck a chord with many in the gay community. Bean has since become a prominent activist for gay rights.

In April 2000 the Times again featured a gay athlete, this time a seventeen-year-old high school football player from Massachusetts, Corey Johnson. The story told how, with the help of his supportive school and parents, Johnson had come out to his team during his senior season.

It was an uplifting tale of tolerance and respect for difference. The story included an anecdote about his teammates joining Johnson in singing the disco anthem "It's Raining Men" on the team bus after a game.

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