[oasis][stories]

Olympic Dreams

by Kevin Isom

The 1996 Centennial Olympic Games have burst forth upon Atlanta like a mighty flame, and I find myself pondering the important question: how can I sneak into the Olympic divers' dorms?

I have it on good authority, from an acquaintance of a friend of a friend working at the Olympic swimming venue, that many of the divers are gay, and most of them are cute. If only I can get in...

Here in the City Too Busy to Hate, traffic is swarming and excitement is growing ever more feverish. Folks are already collapsing from the heat. Scandinavians and Minnesotans don't cope well with 90 degree plus temperatures. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games sold the world on our city by reporting an average July temperature in the mid-70s. They neglected to mention it was the average July temperature at four in the morning. Our radio stations, to their credit, are courteously announcing the thermometer readings in Celsius as well as Fahrenheit, so that the Europeans will know at precisely what temperatures their heat exhaustion sets in.

Yes, it's heating up here. And we've barely even gotten a glimpse of the athletes.

I actually know one of the American divers who's been training here this last year. I matched him up with his boyfriend in the fall. He's as cute as a button, and if he's any indication, we're going to have loads of eye candy. Any athletes who go out after the Games are over will find themselves welcomed with open arms. Southerners know how to be hospitable. Or is it easy? One of the two.

Curiously, I've looked over the list of scheduled events, and there are several that seem to be missing. Sure, the opening ceremonies are full of queer sensibility. A torch traveling far and wide, a baton passing from hand to hand to hand, will light the great Olympic Flame at the start of the Centennial Games. Oscar Wilde couldn't have written it better himself.

But while there are water sports galore, I don't see Nude Greek Wrestling anywhere on my list. Or Olympic-Weightlifting-While-Still-Looking-Pretty? For women, where is Topless Volleyball or Synchronized Skinny-Dipping? Of course, anything with the word Marathon in it sounds like fun, and in fact the Marathon route passes right by my apartment. Look for me on the sidelines in the TV coverage. I'll be the one drooling.

Seriously, though, if I could have one wish for the Centennial Olympics as they begin in earnest here, it would be that all the queer athletes could wear a Gay and Lesbian Badge of Honor. Then women and men, lesbian and gay, the best in their sports, would be visible on a world stage as they strive for their greatest achievements. And all the world, young and old, could point and say, "There goes a Queer Olympian." I wonder how much public attitudes might change as a result, and how many silent, frightened teens could say proudly, "I'm like that, too."

But I guess that's just an Olympic dream for the moment.

Now if I can just stay focused on getting into those divers' dorms...


Kevin Isom's columns appear in newspapers and magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Other work has appeared in Paris Transcontinental, The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, and other magazines.
©1996 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.