Robert Hampton

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14th September 2012

Good sport
Posted by at 8.32pm | Gay | 2 responses

Attitude Magazine October 2011The October issue of Attitude magazine plopped through my letterbox today (it’s in shops next week). They are celebrating Team GB’s success at the Olympics with a special cover featuring five British Olympians and their six-packs.

The perceived wisdom is that homosexuality and sport are mutually exclusive. This magazine feature is the latest sign that this long-held stereotype is breaking down. Elsewhere, we have rubgy star Ben Cohen running an anti-bullying charity specifically targeting LGBT youth and Liverpool FC sending a delegation to Liverpool Pride this year.

Despite these positive developments, high-profile openly gay sportspeople are few and far between. Of the 11,000 athletes at this year’s Olympics, only 22 were ‘out’ – among them, Team GB dressage gold medallist Carl Hester and Australia’s lovely Matthew Mitcham.

If the statistic that between 5% and 10% of the population is gay is correct, there must be many more athletes out there hiding their sexuality. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if the percentage of gay people in sport was less than that in society as a whole. Many people’s love of sports is first nurtured in school (not me, I was a fat bastard who preferred the tranquillity of the computer room). Schools are a hostile environment for many gay teens; the changing room with its atmosphere of machismo and testosterone especially so. How many potential sports stars gave up at a young age, after deciding that the hassle and abuse wasn’t worth it?

Society is changing, and the next generation of up-and-coming athletes may find themselves in a much better position. However, reading stories like this one, about a German footballer afraid to come out because of his fears of a hostile reaction, you realise how far we still have to go.

27th July 2012

Going for Gold
Posted by at 6.34pm | In the News | No responses

Tonight is the culmination of seven years of work, which began on 6th July 2005 when London was announced as winning bidder for the 2012 Olympics.

Since then, there has been a regular moans and complaints from the media and the public about the preparations:-

  • The distribution of tickets, hampered by technical problems and with millions of people missing out in the ballot (I tried so hard to get tickets, and failed).
  • The special treatment of sponsors (including such lovely companies as Dow Chemical), with draconian penalties for anyone “unofficial” who tries to make even the slightest bit of capital from the games.
  • The security clampdown, with London turned into a virtual fortress for the duration of the games, until it was undermined by the G4S fiasco, as a private company fails to deliver on its promises, generating embarrassing headlines around the world.

Given all the above, it’s hardly surprising that there have been so many grumbles about the Games. Embarrassing stumbles like the Korean “wrong flag” incident only serve to deepen the jitters.

And yet… as the Opening Ceremony approaches and the BBC’s best and brightest presenters scurry around the Olympic Park, I feel my cynicism draining away, to be replaced by a cautious optimism and – dare I say it? – excitement.

There were scoffs when the organisers announced the “green and pleasant land” theme of the opening cermoney. Now, people who attended the rehearsal event are tweeting excitedly about something that is “splendidly British and magnificently bonkers”. I cannot wait to see what Danny Boyle has cooked up.

Hopefully, over the next two weeks, the concerns and sceptism will prove to be unfounded, and we can enjoy a great sporting spectacle. Big names are lining up to compete: Chris Hoy, Tom Daley, Victoria Pendleton, Andy Murray, Rebecca Adlington. Joining them are hundreds more Team GB athletes who may not be so anonymous after this fortnight has passed.

As Jonathan Freedland points out, in an excellent piece in today’s Guardian, this event is Britain’s chance to define its position on the world stage for the 21st century.

Also, the video of Jeremy Hunt’s bell breaking is really, really funny to watch.