Wednesday, 20 August 2008

168: Gay Sports - Anxiety and Embarrassment

Almost all the cartoons I shall be dredging up over the next couple of days, when they’re not about inappropriate sexual attraction, are instead demonstrating how gay men are unfit to play sports and therefore silly and ridiculous. Here are a couple of cartoons where heterosexual discomfort is the engine of the joke.

in “Mad Magazine” January 1973

A little gay panic. Vast tracts have been written and rewritten about homophobia and homosociality in sports, about how you can only have the intense heterosexual affection demonstrated in team sports through the explicit disavowal of any homosexual feeling – blah blah blah, blah bla-bla-blah. I’m not even going to attempt to add to any of that.
Here, given “Mad Magazine”’s target teenage audience, it just comes down to anxiety about how, when you’re least expecting it, normal manly behaviour suddenly turns into an unexpected sexual encounter. On several levels this is a refusal to play by the acknowledged rules.
I didn’t notice it immediately, and then only after I’d looked at this several times, but the gay player not only has a limp wrist but there also appear to be some lacy frills poking out of the bottom of his shorts. It is a fairly good thunderstruck expression on the first chap though.

by Richard Guindon, “Minneapolis Tribune”, 1977

In this one it’s about feeling the shame of being beaten by gay players, when in the natural scheme of things one might expect to be superior to a gay team.
And has there ever been an article with a gay team that hasn’t included the question, “How do the other teams feel being beaten by a gay team?” Well done, Mr Guindon for being decades ahead of the curve there. And I do often admire Richard Guindon’s cartoons – particularly one from the late 70s/early 80s which is spot on in its prediction of the horror of a world where everyone has a mobile phone.

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