Jim Buzinski of Outsports.com reports that out of the record 10,708 athletes attending the Beijing Olympics, only 10 of them are openly gay — and all of them are women except for Australian diver Matthew Mitcham. The nine out women are: Judith Arndt (Germany, cycling), Imke Duplitzer (Germany, fencing), Gro Hammerseng and Katja Nyberg (Norway, handball and a lesbian couple), Natasha Kai (U.S., soccer), Lauren Lappin (U.S., softball); Victoria “Vickan” Svensson (Sweden, soccer); Rennae Stubbs (Australia, tennis) and Linda Bresonik (Germany, soccer). In addition, there is also U.S. softball player Vicky Galindo, who has identified herself as a bisexual and was interviewed by the Advocate. In Athens in 2004, there were 11 openly gay athletes while in Sydney there were only seven.
In the meanwhile, the Gay Times has published its own feature on gay Beijing in its August issue. The report more or less rubbished earlier suggestions by international media that the Chinese government was clamping down on the gay scene. This quote by Edmund C, boss of Destination, the gay bar in Beijing where it all happens, caught our attention:
“It makes me very angry that gay activists, who know nothing about China, and don’t even live here, report that the Chinese government is trying to stamp out gay culture… It’s misrepresentation. Our club was raided, but it was raided because the government had a directive against large crowds in open spaces – they are worried about crowd control and fire regulations. Yes, they might close us for the Olympics but, then, they might close all nightclubs.”
In mid July, a Xinhua story entitled “Beijing’s gay scene comes out of the closet” rattled the feathers (and boas) of a section of the gay expatriate community in the capital for painting what they thought was an overly sanguine picture of the state of the scene there. Destination’s expansion to a second level launched one week before the opening of the Olympics has soothed earlier worries that there wouldn’t be a place to boogie during the Games (and to get laid with a hot strapping athlete) – but offered little reprieve for the fact that there is only one bar in the cosmopolis where gay expats feel comfortable enough to hang out in.
For more gay media coverage on the Olympics, check out Outsports’ Olympics Blog.