I Love a Good Party!

Who doesn’t love a good party? I just try to be sure I get invited to my fair share. What makes a great time is a good crowd of happy-go-lucky people in a good mood, yummy snacks, an assortment of beverages, and music that pleases the crowd. You can keep it simple as parties go, no need to cater and fuss. People can bring food: the famous pot luck. You get a lot of interesting, often ethnic food, that way. You never know what will appear in the mystery pot. Depending upon the age of the guests, the food will be edible, gourmet, or sensational. I think it is fun to find out so when I hear it is pot luck, I don’t shy away.

A recent party of note that I attended and enjoyed was for a friend who had just finished his medical residency. This is a pretty big step in life for a doctor that merits celebration. Not only did I contribute my share of food and drink, but I wanted to buy a nice gift for the occasion. So what does one give to a medical professional on his way up the hospital ladder? Obviously, he’d already bought all of the essential medical school supplies, so I had to think harder. I suppose almost anything will do. You can chose from a stethoscope, a blood pressure monitor (like the portable wrist type that is easy to carry about and use), and a backpack worthy of the new career. I like this idea and possibly filling it with some medical supplies like tongue depressors, Q-tips, moist tissues, bandages and tape, a pen light with a battery, and assorted waterproof carrying cases in case something spilled inside. There would be no iodine. Can you imagine that colorful mess? I also had the idea of a gift certificate for a set of scrubs (his old ones were more than retired since the residency). Shoe covers and a surgeon’s bandana would complete the ensemble.

I fussed over which gifts for some time before the actual date of the party and waited until I heard what other people were bringing. That would narrow my focus and help avoid duplication. I wanted to be the most original with my gift since he is a good friend, and I didn’t mind if it had more than a pinch of humor. I might put in the backpack the book “Laughter is the Best Medicine,” an anthology from Reader’s Digest of hilarious medical jokes. There are lots of funny prints that doctors can put up in their offices and tons of cartoons that can be mounted and framed. I had lots of possibilities. I really had to narrow it down. I ended up with several small gifts neatly ensconced in the backpack. I could add others later for his next career graduation. Don’t medical students have two years of residency anyway? I enjoyed the process of selection and was more than willing to go through it again the next time around. It would only be one year later anyway.

A Fun Way to Supercharge Your Fitness

Fitness isn’t confined to the gym alone. Sure, we go there all the time and it is usually our workout place of choice. Some people like to jog in the park or around the neighborhood, but others have other options. In the gym, all the equipment is close at hand not to mention the weights, ropes, stretch bands, and more. If you want a trainer to show you the ropes, you got it. The gym is the temple of health. You see people almost treat it with reverence. More and more people are becoming regular aficionados. They hog the machines for hours. They have their routines and it is a fixed part of their life schedule. You either go early in the morning or after work as you prefer. No matter. The important point is to stay fit and healthy. After all, the experts say eat right and exercise: these are the rules of a sound life. It is rather simple. Just do it regularly and with zeal. The results will come.

Playing sports is a close second for me to the gym. I love the group camaraderie and the outdoor venues. There is no better way to supplement your gym workout. What is different in my book is doing it at the beach. It is a unique place to indulge as you bask in the warmth of the sun and enjoy vistas of the water. It is easy when you are hot to take a quick dip. Playing volleyball, for example, on the sand adds a new level of intensity to workouts. It seems that the density of the sand means that you have to use more energy to lift your feet and move about. I highly recommend switching your playing field to the beach for a nice change of pace. It’s a fun way to supercharge your fitness. Otherwise, things can get a bit dull.

Yes, I have to tote a lot of stuff with me to the beach—the usual sporting equipment and a cooler full of cold beverages and maybe a few energy-boosting snacks. It is all part of the process. No, I don’t carry them one by one to my destination of course. That would be tedious. I have a beach wagon like these that fits in the back of my van. You can put everything on it all at one time so you can transport efficiently and quickly with little fuss or effort. I got it years ago when I first started my beach sports activities and it is always waiting and ready to go at the drop of a hat. In essence, it stays compact in the back of my vehicle. Come winter, it goes in the garage. If you don’t have a beach cart, you better enlist some friends to help carry the equipment. Be wise, however, and get yourself a cart. It’s so practical that you won’t mind make beach trips a regular endeavor.

Locker Room Funk

I am lucky enough to have a home gym and it is not miniscule. It takes up the entire spare room and I can fit quite a bit of equipment inside. I have a small treadmill, stair climber, and some weights and balls. I have been known to invite friends over to work out, but there is a residual problem: locker room funk. Even one person can create this sorry state of affairs, but try two or three at once. You have to air out the place mighty fast if you want to reuse the room in the immediate future. Odors linger everywhere. While you can resort to those nasty perfumy room deodorizer, an air purifier like one from the brand Therapure is surely a better way to go.

Some genius invented this appliance to give a family a healthy home environment, and it is much appreciated by those with asthma, allergies, and odors. As the parent company of Therapure says, we pulled out all the stops when we created our Therapure line of home air purifiers – to help you ensure the air your family breathes is free of allergens, pollutants, irritants, germs, and toxins. Our new Therapure Tower air purifiers are engineered for maximum effectiveness and because of this, we outpace the competition. Well, I certainly believed the ads and went out and bought one that uses a HEPA filter, has UV light, and boasts of Photo Catalyst technology. The device tackles odors as well as it does airborne pollution of other types. As the ads go on to say, it is tough on germs but easy on your wallet under $150 at the most, so you have no excuse not to own one to cure locker room funk. I selected the TPP220M that is compact and portable, great for spare rooms like my gym. The tower design is attractive and you have a choice of a couple of colors. You get an automatic timer so the machine keeps on working while you attend to other matters in your home. You can spend a little more to get more power (triple action purification if you have a larger room and want maximum protection against indoor pollution, including odors.) It is up to you to decide if you have a “heavy need” for a more expensive model. Those with chronic health conditions swear by them. As for me, the basic model will suffice. You get enough efficiency and technology to satisfy your needs. Only a real gadget lover would want more. For looks and affordability, just follow my lead with the basic TPP220M. There are vast numbers of these air purifiers on the market so you can watch for deals and specials.

Now that the air purifier is in constant use, I never balk at inviting friends over for a day at the local gym. I don’t have to fear offending the subsequent groups. No one wants to smell locker room funk. I wasn’t about to spend a lot of m y spare time scrubbing and disinfecting. With the Therapure, I don’t have to.

Training for a Biathlon

The athletics endeavor I chose to participate in or support are varied. Sometimes while I do not indulge in something in particular, I have a friend or relative who does. Thus, most sports pique my interest. Water recreation, winter sports, and anything from a relay race to a marathon are possible. You might also include baseball, tennis, golf, or hockey. I am currently training for a biathlon that includes cross-country skiing plus rifle shooting. I already have a firearm awaiting use in its gun safe.

I am looking forward to the excitement of this challenge and having to do two activities equally well. For me, a biathlon can’t just be any two sports. This time it happens to coincide with my skills and interests. Whether you are an amateur or a pro, a biathlon or triathlon has its special moments. It is an entirely different animal from the basic, most common events. You feel a particularly strong sense of achievement when you do well at multiple tasks. It is a feeling like no other. Hence my decision to participate. Plus, the biathlon is part of a fundraiser for a gay cause.

I am getting out my rifle in order to clean and inspect it for imminent use. I must assure myself that it is in good order. I guess you might say that checking it over and then shooting at a gun range are part of my training. I don’t want to be rusty at half of my upcoming challenge. I love cross-country skiing and have been tackling that aspect of the event as frequently as I can. In the area where I live, there is ample opportunity.

I bought the best gun safe for the money, and installed it in the spare room that I also call the rec room of the house. Because it houses a weapon for sports, it is not in the bedroom close at hand for robbery protection where you might expect it. I certainly could put a pistol or two in there as there is plenty of room. For now, it is the repository of one lone rifle. Maybe in the future its purpose will grow. After all it is water and fireproof and could house vital documents, precious assets, or even cash.

I am a pretty good marksman and shot, so this part of the biathlon should go smoothly. If my skiing can be brought up to snuff, I have a good shot of winning or placing. No matter. Whatever happens, I will enjoy the process.

Practice makes perfect and I am diligently doing my best to advance my skills. Meanwhile, the rifle goes back into the gun safe when not needed to make sure there is no unauthorized access. Guns are a big responsibility whether to deter theft or for athletic usage. Accidents in the home can happen at any time with members of the family or even guests. It pays to use the gun safe for the purpose intended and keep firearms locked up and secure.

Athletes You May Not Know Are LGBT

LGBT issues can be particularly important in sports because sports are areas that have explicit gender separation. If you’re a trans woman or a trans man, transphobia could keep you out of the leagues that match up with your gender. Too many people in sports care more about your birth-assigned gender than your real one. With lesbian, gay, or bisexual athletes, they’re mainly challenging the homophobia and biphobia of a lot of their potential fans and existing fans.

Some people will still be surprised to find out that certain athletes are LGBT, or that certain celebrities in general are LGBT. You really shouldn’t. LGBT people don’t come in a box. We really could be anyone. Since we could be anyone, there shouldn’t be any surprise when a random person comes out as LGBT. Hopefully, I can help people be a little less surprised by listing some of the athletes that are LGBT.

If you’re looking for a lesson on the history of coming out as a professional athlete, then pro-tennis player Martina Navratilova should definitely be on your list. She’s been out as a bisexual since 1981, and she got the conversation going at that time. Martina Navratilova helped pave the way for a lot of LGBT athletes since then. 1981 was a scary year to be LGBT, so the people who came out during this time period deserve even more credit for bravery.

Matthew Mitcham, Olympic diver extraordinaire, is LGBT as well as a person who has struggled with mental illness. Now there’s another civil rights issue in modern athletics that merits some serious discussion: professional athletes who are struggling with mental illness or who have struggled with it. We know that there’s no shortage of athletes that are like that today, and many of them dare not admit it. Being mentally ill means you’re weak to a lot of fans who are riddled with toxic masculinity. At least Matthew Mitcham had his long-term partner to fall back on when he was horribly depressed and burned out in his earlier years.

Figure skater Johnny Weir probably didn’t shock anyone when he finally came out when he published his memoirs. He did make a lot of people impatient before then, and he pointed out to the gay community that they weren’t exactly encouraging him to come out that way. I do think that straight people should remember how emotionally difficult coming out can be, and that it’s even more difficult to do so on a massive scale. It’s a personal thing and no one should be forced into it.

Sheryl Swoopes, WNBA star, is one of the most high-profile professional athletes to come out in recent years. She seems to have taken it in stride. The WNBA has been a source of empowerment for oppressed people for a long time now. Sheryl Swoopes is black, LGBT, and a woman, and would know a thing or two about oppression.

Gus Johnston, hockey champion, came out on YouTube, which should solidify just how twenty-first century his experience really was. He regrets not coming out sooner, and he managed to share some pretty heartfelt feelings about the emotional difficulties of his current situation and situations he has been in as an athlete.

The history of professional athletes coming out is older than a lot of people think and older than a lot of other people remember. Many of them came out when it was scarier to do so, and some of them were outed by different circumstances. They paved the way for the rest of us, like we’re paving the way for the LGBT folks of the future.

Imagining a Sports World Without Misogyny or LGBT Hatred

proudtoplay-lgbt-csr-business-program

For me, athletics has always been about an essential celebration of humanity and human physical capabilities. It’s been about realizing that you are capable of more than you think and testing your personal limits. There is no reason why it has to be mixed up with a hatred of women and anything feminine or traditionally feminine.

Of course, the misogyny in sports culture has a really long history that’s way older than modern sporting culture, and even older than many modern sports themselves. Women in many cultures weren’t even allowed to attend sporting matches, so they couldn’t even develop an interest in them outside of a desire to taste the proverbial forbidden fruit.

Women certainly weren’t allowed to play sports. Of course, women historically were excluded from public life in general, so it isn’t surprising that they were also excluded from athletics. We’ll never know how many women dressed up as men and became star athletes anyway, just like we’ll never know how many LGBT people passed for straight and cis throughout history.

Let’s be clear: excluding women and anything related to women from sports today is done in the exact same spirit as it was in the past. We’ve toned it down a lot and we’ve made it more socially acceptable to be a tomboy who likes sports or a female athlete who plays sports. Just because the sentiment is watered-down doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

The hatred of LGBT people in sports is connected to misogyny, and not just because lots of LGBT people are women. LGBT people are perceived as being less masculine almost by default, regardless of their gender identity or gender performance. People who are obsessed with the gender binary and gender performance will hate anyone who falls outside of it, even at the expense of a lot of LGBT athletes. Basically, for misogynists, LGBT people are a variation on women, who they hate automatically.

LGBT Athletes Should Be Able to Be Honest

maxresdefaultNo one is really surprised when a musician comes out of the closet, I guess. It’s even less surprising when actors come out of the closet. We’ve still internalized all of the stereotypes from high school to the extent where we still think of actors as theater geeks at some level, and think of musicians as chorus geeks. In all fairness, that’s what a lot of actors and musicians were when they were in high school.

However, we have our stereotypes about the jocks, too, and one of the unifying factors is that they are aggressively and even evangelically heterosexual. The gay star athlete shocks more people than the gay star of the school play, even if it’s the exact same person.

This is one of those very gendered stereotypes, of course. I know that one of the stereotypes about all female athletes is that they’re lesbians. Bisexual people are still often invisible in the minds of a lot of folks, including LGBT folks who forget what the ‘B’ stands for. Still, LGBT people in general are still fighting for visibility in culture, so it makes sense to help us recognize the LGBT people who have managed to succeed in athletics in general.

One person who would agree with me about the weird gendered disparity with sports homophobia is Megan Rapinoe. Megan Rapinoe is a soccer player who was talented enough to make it to the Olympics. She is also a lesbian who has been with her loving girlfriend for years. She said that her teammates were fairly accepting of her, and that this isn’t the sort of thing that usually stays secret among female athletes.

She went on to say that it is much different for male athletes. I also wonder if it’s different for professional athletes who don’t play team sports. They only have to be at the mercy of their fans and their coaches. Team sports amplify everything. If you get along great with your team, it makes your career so much better. If you’re at odds with them, then every problem gets so much worse.

NBA star Joe Amaechi has set an example for LGBT athletes in many ways. We have to stand up for one another, and we have to call out homophobia when we see it happen or it’s still going to be normalized in the world of professional athletics. When Kobe Bryant used a slur against gay people, Joe Amaechi criticized him for it. This is Kobe Bryant we’re talking about, and he is clearly a terrible person to begin with. I doubt he’s listen to anyone calling him out on anything. The thing is, Joe Amaechi’s criticism wasn’t really aimed at Kobe Bryant. It was aimed at the culture at large.

Joe Amaechi spoke to the admirable fact that it is no longer socially acceptable to use racial slurs in the public sphere, and that as a black man, he doesn’t have to put up with them as much any more. However, he still has to put up with homophobic slurs from people like Kobe Bryant, and he contends that those should be just as politically unacceptable. We need more LGBT folks and our allies to have the courage to say things like that.

One of the great things about coming out in the world of sports is that every single time someone does it, it makes it that much more common and it will make it that much easier for people to do it later on. When Ellen came out back in the 1990’s, it was a scarier time to be openly gay, but you could still be openly gay. Before then, it was even harder. Today, celebrities come out right and left, and it isn’t even newsworthy anymore. I’m hoping that we’ll get to the point where it is no longer newsworthy for professional athletes to come out as LGBT. We all know that plenty of them are. Society is finally becoming mature and compassionate enough to accept that reality.

Should LGBT Athletes Be Outspoken?

Olympic Diver Tom Daly

Olympic Diver Tom Daly

Athletes vary a lot in their outspokenness on the LGBT issue. Some of them are basically LGBT rights activists in their own right. Others want people to be so quiet about the LGBT issue that you’d swear that they wanted to shove it into its own closet. Not every single LGBT person has to be an activist, it’s true, and I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on people to feel like they have to be a representative for their sexuality and people with their sexuality all the time. However, professional athletes have a lot of power, and the athletes who can use that power are really advised to do so as much as they can.

Gareth Thomas managed to settle a lot of bets among rugby fans when he confirmed that his is, in fact, LGBT. He’s very much of the school of thought that it shouldn’t matter, and that he wants people to stop talking about it and focus on his performance as an athlete. I understand where he’s coming from, and I want to bring about a world where it doesn’t matter, and being gay or straight is like being brown-haired or black-haired. However, we don’t live in that kind of world yet, and we can’t just pretend we’ve already won. It’s like sports. Even if you know which team is going to win, we have to actually have the match and play it out. We know LGBT rights are going to be second nature to the people of the future, but we have to create that future.

The movement can have people like Gareth Thomas, but everyone can’t be like that. Gareth Thomas is a somewhat older athlete in a profession that tends to skew young, so it makes sense from a generational perspective that he would be more likely to hold this particular viewpoint. He’s more accustomed to a culture where people concealed their sexuality from the public if it was a controversial version, and there’s clearly part of him that is primed for that.

Younger professional athletes who grew up in a less homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic time period may be better activists anyway. They’re going to feel more comfortable with coming out more openly, and they will tend to have a younger and more tolerant fan base in their own right. Gareth Thomas has fans from a more homophobic era who are probably lamenting the ‘loss’ of one of their athletic heroes, and Gareth Thomas shouldn’t regret losing them. Younger professional athletes help embody the future of athletics. When they come out and they’re outspoken about it, they’re sending the message that this is the way things are now, and you have to get used to it. That’s really always been our message.

Machismo and the Modern Sporting Culture

abs_exampleIt’s no secret that the modern sports culture is obsessed with machismo. The modern sports culture is a place where toxic masculinity is on full display. Toxic masculinity defines the male gender role as that of someone who is violent and unemotional. Sports don’t have to celebrate violence. They don’t have to celebrate stoicism and immunity to pain, or a feigned immunity to pain. They don’t even have to celebrate strength, since a good portion of sport relies more on lean athleticism than actual physical strength. However, that isn’t the way modern sports turned out.

As a result, modern sports can present a hostile environment for gay people and for all women. The stereotypical man obsessed with sports insults people by calling them ‘gay’ or by calling them ‘women,’ which indicates the level of regard that he has for both gay people and women. Sportswriters will parade their misogyny around all the time in their writings and in their interviews. Men in this culture perform their masculinity by watching and consuming sports, and you get the impression that sports would hold no interest at all for many of them otherwise, just like few people would be interested in the Olympics if the ceremony was not such a showcase for nationalism.

However, this situation is starting to change as LGBT people become more accepted by society in general. Even the most macho men in this culture are starting to accept that they can’t get away with being hostile towards gay people, and others are becoming genuinely accepting of them. They might still gender-police men for not being ‘man’ enough, whatever that means, but they might let it go when the man in question is actually gay. It’s a weird mix of ideologies that don’t add up, but it is the exact situation that you would expect from a society that is still at the crossroads when it comes to gay rights and the mainstreaming of gay people.