My wife and I were showing a single lesbian friend of ours around the neighborhood. She just moved here. We pointed to one local drinking establishment that we heard had become a hangout for a lot of gay women. We poked our heads in and our friend sniffed dismissively, "golf lesbians." My wife and I consider ourselves pretty hip but hadn't heard that one before. We took it from her tone and some post-hoc deductive reasoning that our friend meant that the women she saw in that bar were acting, dressing and living in a more mainstream way. They were not part of a movement and, therefore, not part of "the community."
I bet many gay male athletes feel that way -- not part of the community. Their homosexuality is most certainly unacceptable in the professional sports community and their social masculinity -- their dress, their humor, their nightlife interests -- often fall outside established gay social institutions. Who are their role models? What TV sitcom can they point their pals in the locker to and say "See, that's the kind of gay man I am."
Now they have one. In Between Men is new web series, supported by Marc Jacobs, that, according to its publicist "is about masculine, gay men who feel caught between two worlds. Obviously, they are not straight, nor do they identify with the behaviors of mainstream gay social scene for the most part, so they live somewhere in between." The series will have seven 10 minutes episodes beginning in November (premiere episode TBA).
This means a lot for gays men in sports. As you know, the climate in professional American sports is so inhospitable that no athlete in the major leagues -- NFL, MLB, NBA -- has ever come out while still playing. Sports is far behind most of society in this respect.
Just as Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are Alright brilliantly depicts a lesbian married couple with two kids as de facto in mainstream community consciousness, giving gay and straight people a different look at variations on gay living, In Between Men can offer a representation of gay life that gives gay athletes a basis of identification and hope and straight athletes a basis knowledge and permission to accept them.
One thing's for sure, the title -- "In Between Men" - does little erase one pervasive gay male stereotype: that keen sense of humor.
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