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Letter from Brussels: Homo Olympicus

by De Ket in Columns & Opinions , 30 september 2012

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Dear Northern Neighbors, The deadline for me to hand in this column was just before the last day of the Olympic Games in London. An event on world scale, literally, people have been saying for years already just how successful it’s going to be. I wonder if anyone in a job interview would ever bang their own drum so loudly without getting a little negative mark from the head interviewer.

The Olympic Games were good for the gay community, not so much because of a much coveted medal but because of the transparency with which some sportsmen and women traveled to London.

According to twenty-three to openly gay sportsmen took part in the Games: twenty lesbians and three gay men. Of the three gays there are two in equestrian and one likes to be in the pool. With the lesbians most of them are in ball sports and a few fence.’s statistics, which most media took over, are remarkable because of the discrepancy between the number of lesbians and gay men not being ashamed of their preference. Is it easier for women in sports to come out as gay? Is it because hormone levels of lesbian sports players lend a tiny advantage? Another funny detail: lesbians go for team sports, gay men usually don’t.

What also stands out is that – according to the same website that is – not one athlete has come out as gay or lesbian, while athletics are considered the main thing at the Olympics. So – statistically wise – a few should be homosexual.

Two dozen Olympian sports players who are out of the closet is in shrill contrast with the total of 17,000 who took part in the Games, a sad 0.14%. Even when twice as many are secretly gay the score of participation is really low. So why is the taboo on homosexuality in sports still not the “big issue” in society?

In this column yours truly has tried a wild guess once, on how many first league soccer players would be gay. It made clear that top sports, especially team sports, are not popular with gay men.

Action groups have vented the theory – or is it obsession – that this is caused by discrimination/taboos/ignorance. The London figures, even if they are only an indication, make me think that, aside from the discrimination/taboos/ignorance gays just aren’t that into sports, while gay women are, especially in team sports.

And there are probably also physical factors weighing in with the choice of gays and lesbian to go for the top in sports. Looking at the women’s shot-put competition it was often not clear whether it was really a woman throwing that leaden ball through the air. A male gymnast from American Cuban descent also came out and gymnastics is more than with other sports focused on physical form.

Homosexuality in sports is – in my humble opinion – not a taboo, because gays and lesbians obviously have other priorities in life than playing sports. Gays play sports, just not so often at top level, they simply don’t have the ambition, whatever other people claim.

Perhaps gays realize that being too fanatic in sports is actually not very healthy. A triathlon athlete rarely makes it to 55...

Yours dedicated,

De Ket



In the New Issue of Gay News, 323, July 2018

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