• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 291 other followers

  • Blog Stats

    • 323,983 hits

The Smart Way to Boycott Putin’s Olympics

UPDATE: See MSNBC video below.

LGBTs in Russia are really suffering under Vladimir Putin’s new “anti-propaganda” law, and American Gay people are properly concerned, especially when we see what a political, financial and propaganda windfall he’s about to reap next year with the Olympics.

This has prompted a movement in San Francisco and New York, led by the writer Dan Savage and others, to boycott Russian vodka, especially the Stolichnaya brand, which for decades has touted itself as the quintessential brand of Russia’s quintessential drink (and advertised heavily in LGBT media).

Gay bars dumping so-called Russian vodka. (Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

Gay bars dumping so-called Russian vodka. (Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

But as we’ve since learned, Stoli isn’t made in Russia; it’s now made in Latvia, and the holding company which owns it issued a statement in July proclaiming itself a “fervent supporter and friend” of LGBTs – as well it should be, considering how much money we make them. So this Latvian base has prompted critics, Gay and otherwise, to denounce the vodka boycott – without coming up with any better ideas.

Some people have floated the idea of boycotting the Olympics themselves – which is closer to the mark, in my opinion, except (as Jimmy Carter discovered), it doesn’t work. The athletes who trained for the 1980 Games weren’t allowed to go, so they sat around and sulked, telling everyone how deprived they were, and four years later the medalists at the Los Angeles Olympics had their records tainted in the popular mind because “the Soviets weren’t there.”

So along sped Greg Louganis, the poster boy for Gay Olympic athletes, this summer to criticize the “boycott Sochi” movement because of those poor deprived athletes – most of whom, at least in the glamour sports, make a lot more money than Gay bartenders do, and even Gay bar owners. MSNBC had Louganis all over its air as soon as the boycott idea surfaced – which got me to thinking.

I like Greg Louganis and admire him. But he’s no one’s idea of a trenchant political analyst or even a Gay spokesman. If his opinions were worth listening to, he might have said, “Don’t keep the athletes from going, because they’re good at winning public sympathy and causing a backlash.” Or he could have gone even further and said, “What ought to happen is that LGBT sports fans and our allies shouldn’t go to Sochi and shouldn’t buy tickets.”

So since nobody seems to have thought all this through correctly, here’s the smart idea. Don’t boycott Stoli; don’t boycott the Olympics.

Don’t boycott the advertisers; they’re too big a group, while boycotts must be focused to be effective.They make too many products, and even if you want to punish them, you’re likely to buy their products even as you tell yourself you’re boycotting them. Know why “Boycott Koch Industries” doesn’t work? Because they have a near-monopoly on paper products. Are you giving up toilet paper these days? When you buy more of your favorite brand, do you really turn the package around to find out who the manufacturer is? (You should; don’t buy Georgia-Pacific, a subsidiary of Koch Industries.)

Procter and Gamble will probably advertise; even if you follow the company fairly closely, it’s hard to keep up with everything they make. P&G buys and sells brands every week. They don’t make what they used to make, and a brand that used to be owned by someone else is now owned by P&G.

They’re not the proper focused targets. Boycott NBC-Universal instead. Just don’t watch the Games.

Look who's on top in this logo. NBC's who American LGBTs should boycott. They're the easiest to hurt and you don't have to lift a finger.

Look who’s on top in this logo. Boycott the biggest company behind the Olympics, NBC. They’re the easiest to hurt and you don’t have to lift a finger.

NBC’s the one paying the massively corrupt International Olympic Committee, which talks out of both sides of its mouth like graduates of the Putin School of Doubletalk, all those billions for the broadcast rights.

Don’t watch the opening and closing ceremonies; don’t watch the competitions. Simple. (You can see all the highlights the next day on YouTube anyway.)

If you really want to get NBC’s goat, liberal Gay person, don’t watch MSNBC either during the Olympics. Make Rachel Maddow squirm. Be a real Inner and stick it in Chris Hayes’s face. Instead of watching – you won’t miss any news anyway; there won’t be any during the Olympics – fire off a tweet every night, “Boycott #Olympics Rachel Maddow @TRMS @MSNBC #corporatemasters #Putinsucks.”

This Gay woman is owned by Vladimir Putin's sex partners at NBC-Universal.

This Gay woman is owned by Vladimir Putin’s sex partners at NBC-Universal.

Make her ratings drop and I guarantee you’ll get her attention. And she’ll tell her boss, who’ll tell his boss – which might eventually help shape NBC’s news coverage of Russia, Putin, the Games, the IOC – and the latest bill introduced in the Duma, authorizing the Russian police to confiscate the children of Gay people.

Remember, we got Anita Bryant fired back in the ’70s, because Florida orange juice was a specific target, easy to remember.

Refuse to watch the Olympics. And every day they’re on, skip MSNBC and tweet its hosts.

Then when it’s over, declare victory and return to your normal programming.

That’s how to do Gay politics and win. LGBTs in Russia are depending on us. We must win this, and I’ve just told you how.++

[http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032507&#8243]

Jason Collins & the Triumph of Gay Men

The Washington wizard. (Jim Young/Reuters)

The Washington wizard. (Jim Young/Reuters)

Jason Collins is no Charles Barkley or Kobe Bryant. He is a journeyman center in the NBA, not a superstar – but he was a first-round draft pick coming out of Stanford, and has lasted 13 years as a banger in the world’s toughest basketball league. Now he has come out, and commentators are scrambling to tell us what this means. But you can save yourself the trouble and just ask me.

Whenever you’re in doubt on any subject, you can just ask me.

It doesn’t mean “he has changed the NBA forever.” He has, but so what? It doesn’t just mean he has “changed sports.” It sure doesn’t mean the Supreme Court will throw out DOMA and endorse same-sex marriage, or Congress will now pass ENDA out of sheer unadulterated admiration for the man. Would that it did.

It doesn’t even mean he’ll play next year – although as a career ploy for a free agent who’s 34, this was brilliant. If no team picks him up, people will say, “See, the players wouldn’t accept a Gay teammate.” No, it will mean he’s 34, doesn’t score and doesn’t rebound.

His job is to come off the bench “with six hard fouls to give,” just as he describes it. If he gets another contract, he’ll play the same way next year as he did this year and the previous dozen. 

I bet he does get a contract, actually. The NBA owners know they’re in the popularity business, and Jason Collins has just become a star. He got more publicity for coming out than he ever did for playing – in a league where the average player lasts five years. Joe Wertheim, an editor at Sports Illustrated, was on MSNBC’s “Hardball” last night predicting Collins will be the most popular player wherever he goes, not just for having the courage to come out and be the first, but for his intelligence and character as well as his play. 

So what does his coming out really mean? (Drum roll for my big reveal.)

He just proved Gay men are men.

Jason isn't Nathan. Jason isn't The Nance.

Jason isn’t Nathan. Jason isn’t The Nance. The Nance is a man too, but he’s not Jason.

I mean no disrespect whatever to the great Nathan Lane, or to nances in general. Some Gay men are naturally effeminate, that’s how God made ’em and how God loves ’em. Me too.

But the stereotype of Gay guys is that we’re all sissies, and Jason Collins has just destroyed that stereotype, once and for all.

That’s what his coming-out means. Straight men can no longer protect themselves by oppressing us, as if they’re better than we are. They’re not; Jason Collins has 13 years and a ring, while Joe Sixpack ain’t got nothin’.

The entire edifice of socially-constructed, brutally-enforced Masculinity has now come crashing down. That’s what Jason has given the world.

His first beneficiaries will be Straight men, who have been horribly oppressed, in their own minds, bodies, jobs and social roles, by the whole stereotype that tells them they’ve got to out-butch each other 24/7 for their whole entire lives or they’re worthless.

As Leonardo Ricardo would say, “No more pretend!” (I bet he’s said it incessantly since Jason’s news broke – considering Leonardo’s been saying it incessantly these last many years, and rightly so.)

No more pretend. Think about that. No more bullshitting your way through life, trying to be what you’re not.

No more having to live that lie. What a relief to billions of Straight guys! Now they can be their whole selves; incorrigibly Straight, weepy or emotionally constipated, whatever they turn out to be.

This makes me think of my brothers, Dick especially. Rather by accident he’s taught me a lot about what Straight guys go through. They’re trapped, most of them; prisoners in a concentration camp, run by a tyrant existing only in their minds.

Dick once said he thinks men are more emotional than women. They accuse women of being “emotional” all the time, but men feel their emotions more strongly than women do, and have a very hard time handling them.

Dick is an honest man, with enough insight and intelligence to call ’em as he sees ’em. He’s also the first person I came out to in my family.

As soon as he said men are more emotional, I knew he was right; I brought up our brother Steve, the best athlete of the three of us. Steve could never handle his feelings, and is dead now because of it (alcoholism). Dick had the best athletic mind of the three of us, Steve got the best athletic body, and I’m the one who played sports the longest. I was never any good but I enjoyed it.

After we talked I started checking with the women I knew, and they all agreed, men are the emotional ones.

John Wayne was all an act. He had scriptwriters and choreographers and lighting designers that regular guys don’t have.

So yesterday, Jason came out. TA-DA! “I’m a 34 year old center in the NBA. I’m Black. And I’m Gay.”

Perfect. What a smart fellow – and not for the reasons Frank Bruni thought in his column this morning in The Times. (I don’t care for Bruni. He’s an assimilationist. He thinks Gayness is like your appendix, not your appendage.)

The most important thing to any man is his appendage. It’s not the most important thing about him, just to him. Whatever gets him hard is right, it’s true, it’s reality. How relieved Jason must feel today.

For centuries now women have been wanting to smash the patriarchy. But he just did!

Maybe it took a man to do that. Maybe women will become Jason’s ultimate beneficiaries. Wouldn’t that be an achievement! Jason the World-Beater.

BlackSuperman

Meanwhile let’s give him enough space that he can be a human being, not a superhero. He’s just a guy who plays hoops, that’s all. But he’s smart enough to know the huge symbolic importance of what he’s done, coming out in a glamour sport that’s all about masculinity, competition and therefore sex.

There are a few players and commentators who are saying stupid things (including one guy on ESPN, to the network’s shame), but The Reaction From Players is not the important thing going on today, or ever. It’s worth noting that Jason’s managed to take showers with Straight guys for 13 years and nobody noticed him, because he didn’t notice them either.

Another guy on MSNBC last night – part of a panel on “All In with Chris Hayes” – was Hudson Taylor, a very cute guy who used to wrestle in college, and now fronts an organization for “allies” of Gay people in sports. He didn’t say whether he’s Gay or Straight; apparently he didn’t feel the need, which is occasionally refreshing. Anyway he started wrestling when he was six and loved it, so he kept on, despite the homophobic atmosphere in locker rooms that “denigrates, isolates and emasculates” Gay guys. He didn’t like it; now he’s doing something about it.

Dan Savage pointed out, as Jason also did in his article, that it’s been just a few months since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. If it’s butchness the world is looking for, try all those Gay Marines. They came out, their fellow troops supported them, The End. Savage reminded us that anti-Gay bigots predicted half a million soldiers would resign; instead there were only two, “both chaplains, who could be spared.”

Watch it yourself here. I especially recommend Hayes’ quote from the boxer Orlando Cruz, who’s also Gay, then stay tuned for the second segment.

Thank God for this current generation, finally getting the human race’s act together about male and female. (This is not “silly,” as William C. Rhoden claimed; it’s momentous. Is racism silly? Not when a cross is burning in your yard.) What a gift to posterity, a watershed moment in human history. Jason Collins crystallizes that, but so do those LGBT soldiers. He just happens to work in the glamour industry, and man, what a difference that makes.

We can finally begin to think of the day when overcompensating men don’t feel like they have to rape a woman to “be somebody.” Maybe next time, a 4-year-old girl in India will be spared, instead of being raped to death.

Maybe we can begin to think of the end of religious fundamentalism – which exists solely to enforce male dominance and gender norms. Whether the fanatics are Christians, Jews, Muslims or Hindus, they’ll kill you if that’s what it takes for a frightened, submissive “man” to feel like a man.

My brother Dick has never not been a man, and neither have I. I’m sissier than some guys and butcher than others – as are we all!

The end of fundamentalism, if and when it ever comes, will allow genuine religion and spirituality to flourish.

Of course it will take decades and centuries for humanity to get to enlightenment (and there will always be flat-earthers), but today the news is Jason’s. Gay men are real men, it’s natural to admire our prowess and uniqueness whether we’re a Collins, a Cruz or a Lane, and sports are mostly about the body you’re born with, just like sex is.

Way to go, Stanford Man, you’ve led us all to the promised land. Enjoy your triumph; the rest of us are.++

Thanks, pioneers.

Thanks, pioneers.

Rutgers Tape Shows the Violence, Homophobia & Moral Corruption of Bigtime Sports

UPDATE: Rutgers University fired Coach Mike Rice Wednesday morning; this post was written Tuesday night. The focus of public anger now turns to the athletic director, who was informed of the allegations back in July, took no action until the videos were handed over in November, and finally suspended the coach for three games without pay.

This is the same school where Tyler Clementi took his life after his roommate secretly live-streamed video of him kissing a man in their dorm room, provoking a national outcry about bullying.

I grew up Gay in a somewhat athletic family. I’m not very talented physically, but I’ve participated in most of the sports American boys are taught – and I kept playing for decades after my more athletic brothers quit, especially once I found something I was good at: distance running and other highly aerobic activities. One of the highlights of my life was rafting down the Arkansas River years ago from Salida, Colorado to Canon City. It’s dramatic, risky, exciting, a wonderful physical challenge (“Churn churn churn, paddle paddle, front, back, reverse reverse, look out for that hole! OMG we’re gonna slam into those rocks!”), all while surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery. It was like having fantastic sex for six hours straight!

white-water-rafting

I’ve been a sports fan all my life – until the last couple of years, because now I see how money has corrupted elite athletics.

The excitement of physical competition is completely real, for the athletes and the fans. Combine the physical genius of highly skilled players with the shrewd strategies of gifted coaches and you’ve got quite a show indeed. But what we don’t see is far more important than what we do.

Lance Armstrong confessing to Oprah. He was willing to win at all costs - including risking the health of his teammates.

Lance Armstrong confessing to Oprah. He was willing to win at all costs – including risking the health of his teammates.

It isn’t just Lance Armstrong doping, and coercing all his teammates to do the same; it isn’t just NBA and FISA officials throwing games so the most lucrative teams win. It’s more than just the politics of the Olympics, with all their bribes and intrigues; it isn’t just the NCAA’s exploitation of “student-athletes” at major colleges.

It’s us. The fans. We’re the people who fund these organized criminal enterprises owned by billionaires, often at taxpayers’ expense. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the “500,” just persuaded the Indiana Legislature to divert tens of millions of dollars in property taxes to their private business. “Look at all we do for the city,” they say. “Look at all the tourists we bring in. You did the same thing for the Pacers and the Colts.” Who can argue? Not local hack politicians who did indeed build new arenas for the football and basketball teams, both owned by billionaires.

Now comes Mike Rice, the head basketball coach at Rutgers University (which is soon to join my beloved Big Ten Conference) in a big new scandal. Videotapes of his practices show him systematically abusing his players, physically and verbally.

ESPN and the newspapers describe Rice as using “homophobic slurs” and “throwing basketballs at his players’ heads from point-blank range.” But it wasn’t their heads he usually aimed at. He gives new meaning to the term “crotch rocket,” as in “incoming.”

Who can be shocked that a coach calls his players fairy, cocksucker and faggot? Bobby Knight did that at Indiana for decades, where he’s still revered for two national championships despite his criminal record. Verbal abuse is the stock in trade of many coaches, including high schools, middle schools and Little League, so who’s kidding whom?

Rice’s misogyny, his contempt for women by calling his players cunts, bothers me more. No wonder so many players get in trouble for rape, domestic violence and other crimes.

As professional and Olympic sports (which are also professional) scandals mounted over the years, I turned my attention more and more away from the pros to the college level. I come from a long line of Purdue University graduates; it’s a school we’re very proud of. A century and more ago, the president of Purdue created the Big Ten Conference as the first successful attempt to police college sports, which were headed down the corrupt path. Purdue’s athletic teams have been largely scandal-free since then (unlike those at hated rival Indiana, among many other schools), and the kids who play at Purdue go to class, usually graduate and are successful. They don’t all take basket-weaving, either; I know several who took extremely challenging classes in engineering, pharmacy, math, history and other fields.

But it’s become increasingly clear that Purdue has sacrificed a good part of its educational mission, especially since the creation a few years ago of the Big Ten television network, which makes so much money that it’s caused conference realignment nationwide, as other leagues try to duplicate what BTN is doing.

Rutgers is now joining the Big Ten (which is growing to 14), mostly to get BTN into the New York market. The conference has always been prominent in Chicago and the Midwest; all but one school, Northwestern, are publicly-owned. Now instead of concentrating on its historic Great Lakes territory, the Big Ten extends from the Atlantic to Nebraska – and would go to the Pacific if the money were right.

But the conferences are now, and long have been, subordinate to the NCAA, which The New York Times columnist Joe Nocera calls a “cartel.” The NCAA has a Congressional exemption from monopoly laws while raking in billions of TV dollars.

Need a sports fix? The NCAA has an app for that.

Need a sports fix? The NCAA has an app for that.

Nocera and other journalists are dedicated to showing that the NCAA is completely ruthless at exploiting athletes. They’re essentially slave labor. They get scholarships – unless they get hurt, in which case they’re often on their own, with no way to pay the medical bills from all those concussions and broken bones. Schools just toss those kids away. If they’re poor and Black, they don’t stand a chance.

But because all this is done in the name of “education” and “not-for-profit,” most fans just look the other way and enjoy the show.

It’s maddening to me to go on Facebook and see all the Episcopal clergy I know touting their favorite teams, which they do constantly, without any acknowledgment of the labor issues, the health consequences, the sexism and racism and homophobia that are built into the Big Sports Machine. I mean, world-class football will kill ya – but they’re all glued to their TV screens and texting on Twitter and Facebook.

There’s going to be a reckoning someday. I believe the entire sports edifice will come crashing down in a worldwide spasm of disgust, because the whole thing’s based on human exploitation. People who get outraged by sweatshops in China or sexual slavery in Thailand and Russia will not be able to escape knowing they provide the market for these products.

And no feel-good features on TV, like how that Notre Dame player kept going despite the death of his phony girlfriend (and Grandma on the same day!) will be able to overcome the revulsion, or the knowledge that we all participated in this.

So what if there’s an openly-Gay baseball player someday? That’s bound to happen. Reforms on the periphery are not going to cure what ails sports.

They’re violent. They kill people. They’re racist and sexist and homophobic. They use slave labor in college. They bribe their way to success.

It’s all just a TV show – but the fix is in and always has been.

You’re paying for it, sucker. Why worry about global warming when it’s baseball’s Opening Day?++

Jeter-3000-Poster-REV