For years, male gymnasts and divers have been subject of endless speculation regarding their sexual orientation -- and the London 2012 Olympics are no exception.
Unlike soccer, track and field, basketball and other “manly” disciplines, male divers and gymnasts – such as Tom Daley, David Boudia, John Orozco and Danell Leyva – have set internet abuzz with wild guesses about their potential girlfriends, marital status and sexual orientation.
However, the only openly gay diver competing in the London 2012 Olympics is Australian Matthew Mitcham – who came out in 2008 to the Sydney Morning Herald. Other than Mitcham, no other male Olympian – American or foreign – has stepped up and declared his sexuality -- one-way or the other.
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that “out” athletes seem to struggle to find corporate and commercial sponsorships. Right after Mitcham came out and was featured on the cover of The Advocate, critics wondered why the athlete hadn’t received endorsements from major sponsors – suggesting it was probably due to the fact that Matthews had come out as gay.
And while English diver Tom Daley hasn’t declared he is gay or straight, fans and foes alike seem to assume he is gay. Recently, a 28-year-old Twitter troll was arrested for sending malicious tweets about the diver -- some of which read “If there is any consolation for finishing fourth at least Daley and Waterfiled can go and bum each other #teamHIV.” There is even a meme, “Olympics or gay Porn?,” that put Daily front and center.
And these malicious stereotypes may well be the reason why, as PolicyMic pundit Camira Powell points out, with over 12,000 athletes participating from 204 countries less than 0.1% of the 2012 Olympians are openly gay; a seemingly small number considering that about 5% of the world’s population is gay.