by Jane Armstrong | The Globe and Mail
featuring an interview with NCLR Sports Project Director Helen Carrol
After his gold-medal swim in the 1992 Summer Games, Canadian swimmer Mark Tewksbury was in the mood to celebrate. He went to a Barcelona gay bar and stood outside on the sidewalk.
“I had always promised myself that as soon as I was done, I’d start to live my life, so I was ready,” Mr. Tewksbury said in a recent interview.
Not ready enough as it turned out. Despite an aching curiosity, he didn’t go inside the bar. “I was, sort of, too afraid to go in, fearing that reporters were sort of hovering.”
At the time, the celebrated swimmer had told only a female friend that he was gay. Despite his desire to celebrate his “big moment,” Mr. Tewksbury was a closeted gay athlete and he loathed the thought of bringing attention to his sexual orientation. “It was still a huge, deep, dark secret.”
Flash forward 17 years to gay-friendly Whistler, where event organizer Dean Nelson hopes to neutralize the fear and loathing that homosexuality still inspires in elite athletic circles.
For the first time in Olympic history, a Pride House will be set up for gay athletes, spectators and the general public.