South African Olympic archer Karen Hultzer came out in more ways than one at the London Olympics. She was knocked out early from the competition, held at Lord’s, and then on Monday came out as a lesbian.
The world did not end.
Straight people did feel themselves coming over all queer, so to speak.
There was no outbreak of mincing, no plague of women rushing to stores to buy cargo pants and “Dykes on Bikes” T-shirts.
Hultzer just told a gay and lesbian website what all of her friends had known for ages. It was, she said, no big deal.
Cyd Siegler, the co-founder of outsport.com, a website dedicated to reporting about and supporting gay sports men and women who have publically admitted their sexuality, wrote that his organisation had first heard about Hultzer two weeks ago.
“We had published a story about nine openly gay and lesbian Olympians, and a reader said we should reach out to her.
“When we got hold of Hultzer, she was wary of talking for fear that she might get distracted by more media attention ahead of the potential conclusion of her competition on August 3.
“It’s understandable: We always recommend athletes come out during their off-season for that very reason.
“We didn’t include her on our list of out Olympians, as she had not publicly acknowledged her sexual orientation.
“Until now. Hultzer was kind enough to reach back out to us today after realising the cat was out of the bag.
“She told us to ‘go wild’. She also gave Outsports her first public statement about her sexual orientation: ‘I am an archer, middle aged and a lesbian.
‘I am also cranky before my first cup of coffee. None of these aspects define who I am, they are simply part of me.
‘I am fortunate that my sexual identity is not an issue, and I don’t suffer the level of discrimination and violence that black lesbians in South Africa do.
‘I look forward to the day when this is a non-issue and as relevant as my eye colour or favourite sushi.’ ”
Indeed, and well said that lady. David Isaacson, from The Times, who interviewed her last week at Lord’s – where she would once have not been allowed into the member’s section because she’s a woman – and said he found her to be a great interview, full of wit.
At 46 she was the oldest South African in Team South Africa and had only been competing in archery since 2007, which is a shorter time for someone who then competed at international level.
Her announcement, reported outlook.com, brought the number of openly homosexual athletes at the Olympics to 22.
In Beijing just 10 were in the open and in Athens only 11.
Hultzer was the one from the African continent, where homosexuality is treated as an abomination.
It’s the saddest aspect of our nation that we allow this discrimination to continue without the government or the president condemning it.
I wish I didn’t have to write that Hultzer has come out.
I wish it was an announcement that would pass without comment, but in the world we live in, it’s a brave and noble statement.
The Olympics are for all of us: “Just to stand on the green of Lord’s with a South African flag on my back is an achievement,” said Hultzer. Indeed it is.