Tonight on Queer Eye for the Sports Guy, our gay panelists make
over a straight sports columnist and leave him looking like the
South Beach Dinner Theater director.
Why fight the (purple) power? Straight is so last week. Near
Queer is here.
The signs are everywhere. Last week's episode of Playmakers
featured the character who's a gay football player. Soccer
superstar David Beckham paints his toenails and wears sarongs.
Did you see Pudge Rodriguez kiss Marlins closer Ugueth Urbina
nearly on the lips in the playoffs? They're both straight--not
that there's anything wrong with that.
The gay stigma is toast. You go through an NFL locker room and
you'll see 310-pound linemen borrowing each other's hand
moisturizer, saying, "I can't believe you don't exfoliate, dude,"
and then leaving in salmon silk shirts.
So I called the hosts of the Bravo channel smash hit Queer Eye
for the Straight Guy and asked them to make over the column: top
to bottom, left to right, until it was gay enough for Nathan Lane
to read. Unfortunately, the Queer Eye boys couldn't have been
less interested if I'd invited them to Jell-O Night at
Fine. I went to my gay and lesbian friends and acquaintances and
asked them to make over the column for a week. They were
delighted to help--especially after they got a look at my column
picture and nearly ralphed. "Uh, about that sweater?" said my gay
stylist friend, Lawrence. "Mister Rogers is dead."
Cyd Zeigler Jr., who cofounded the gay website Outsports.com,
then weighed in on the turtleneck I was wearing. "Uh, hello?" he
said. "Mock turtles were never in!"
Lawrence put me in a see-through print shirt (so now!), crammed
me into leather pants (so cow!) and plucked my eyebrows (say
ow!). Then he topped it all off with a beanie. "Can't you do some
cool style with my hair?" I protested.
"There is no cool style I can do with that little hair," he said,
clamping the beanie on tight. Suddenly, this is more like THE
LIFE OF (CHARLES NELSON) REILLY.
Now, what would gay sports fans like to see in a magazine that is
usually about as gay as Gen. George Patton? "Gay-sports issues,"
Zeigler said, "opinion and, most of all, naked pictures of
[Houston Texans] quarterback David Carr!"
Name a sport and there is a gay league for it. There is gay
hockey, gay football and the Gay Games. There is even gay rodeo,
which features the usual rodeo events, plus "goat dressing"
(contestants run around trying to put jockey shorts on a goat),
"wild dragging" (contestants try to place a begowned transvestite
atop a bucking bronco) and "steer decorating" (contestants try to
tie a yellow bow on a steer's tail).
"Everybody rolls their eyes when you say gay rodeo," says Ken
Pool, 42, a gay cowboy, "but the animals aren't gay. It's just as
tough as any other rodeo."
And gay sports have nearly as many controversies as straight
ones, including steroids, under-the-table payments and those
full-body Speedo swimsuits in the Olympics. "We're aghast at
those," says Tyler Schnoebelen, a gay water polo player. "We all
cheer louder for the normal Speedos."
At the Gay Softball World Series in Washington, D.C., in August,
the Houston team protested that the Atlanta team had two more
straight players than the two allowed under tournament rules. How
do you go about proving you are gay during a softball game?
Look, ump! My batting gloves match my spikes! Didn't you see me
tidying up the dugout between innings? I'm dying to be out!
Mostly, though, the gay panelists wanted fewer words and more
pictures of athletes that make them go, "Yummm."
There were many votes for more pictures of the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers' Mike Alstott, the Minnesota Timberwolves' Wally
Szczerbiak, Fox's Troy Aikman, and the center-quarterback
exchange. Oh, and singer Melissa Etheridge wanted anything to do
with Serena Williams. "The woman is a goddess," she said,
And Zeigler, well, he had more advice--on how to make sports more
1) "Why can't the NFL throw some Internet cameras in their locker
rooms?" he said. "I mean, [Denver Broncos wide receiver] Ed
McCaffrey would make any straight man gay."
2) "All tennis players need to wear their shirts like Andy
Roddick. You get to see his belly button with every stroke!"
3) "TV needs to show more fraternity guys in the stands with
their shirts off. All we see are shots of [Utah coach] Rick
The point of all this was supposed to be that Queer Nation loves
sports too and competes as fiercely as straights. The only
difference seems to be that gays often celebrate their
hard-fought victories by immediately going to the sweater
department at Saks.
You know, I'm growing kind of fond of this outfit.
If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to
COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER
I went to gay and lesbian acquaintances and asked them to make
over the column for a week.