Monday, January 24, 2011

The 80s: Entertainment and Sports

Entertainment
During the 1980s gays and lesbians were often unfairly represented in entertainment. In 1980 the film Cruising was released. This film navigated the extremes of gay culture in New York. Many gay activists protested the filming and upon its release it ended up being a box-office failure. Fortunately the controversy surrounding the film sent a message to Hollywood-- the LGBTQ community would not stand being misrepresented. In 1981 Vito Russo published The Celluloid Closet, a book that criticized Hollywood's representation of homosexuals.


In 1982 the groundbreaking film Making Love was released. The film was the first of its kind in that it portrayed a homosexual relationship that did not end in tragedy. In 1985 William Hurt won an Oscar for his performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman, which has been described as the "first truly positive portrayal of a gay man to come out of Hollywood." On November 11th, 1985 NBC aired a made for TV movie in which a young man comes home to to announce his homosexuality and AIDS diagnosis. The film was received well by audiences but NBC lost money on the project, advertisers were still hesitant about running commercials during a film that touched on homosexuality. On Broadway Torch Song Trilogy (1983) was one of the first plays to to portray a happy gay relationship and in 1985 Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart opened, the first AIDS-related play. 

Sports
Homosexuality was and still is a huge taboo in the world of competitive sports. No athlete was willing to announce their homosexuality, and with good reason. In 1975 David Kopay had announced in retirement that he was gay, this caused him to be denied coaching opportunities. In 1981 tennis legend Billie Jean King was publicly outed by her former lover. Her outing lost King contracts with corporate sponsors and therefore she lost a lot of money.

However, in 1982 former-Olympian Dr. Tom Waddell organized the first Gay Olympics. More than 1,300 athletes participated first year in San Francisco. The U.S. Olympic Committee took Waddell to court, trying to bar him from using the word "Olympics" in the name of his event. In 1987 Waddell lost the case in Supreme Court and had to rename the event "Gay Games." The games are held every four years, and by 2006 has grown to host over 11,000 participants. 


Additional/Relevant Reading:
The Brief History of Gay Athletes -- http://espn.go.com/otl/world/timeline.html
Gay America: Struggle for Equality -- Linas Alsenas, pg. 108-121

1 comment:

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