Copyright © 2006 Bay Area Reporter, a division of Benro Enterprises, Inc.

Questions and answers

Questions that my yin asks and my yang answers:

Q. When Billy Packer was talking about the NCAA Final Four on television and declined interviewer Charlie Rose's offer to run errands for him at the tournament by saying "you always fag out on me," did he mean to be homophobic?

A. No. Packer generally never attempts anything that spans three syllables.

Q. Well, if the comment wasn't intended to be offensive, was it offensive anyway?

A. Obviously, considering the blogosphere response. Packer cited the old British usage of the phrase implying fatigue, said he meant no sexual connotation, and several defenders of his usage said they had often heard and used the phrase growing up. Growing up in Ohio in the 1950s, I too, heard and used the phrase in that context. Then again, I grew up. Perhaps Packer can understand if today's "fags" find his defense of using the adolescent language of 50 years ago for mature commentary today to be ... well, I believe the term he might use would be "limp."

Q. After initially deciding to suspend New York radio potty mouth Don Imus for referring to the national champion runner-up Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy headed hos," Imus's bosses decided to fire him instead. Do you think most Americans wanted Imus fired?

A. No. Most Americans wanted to scrape him off the bottom of their shoes. That's why most civilized cities ask dog owners to pick up after their pooches.

Q. "Potty mouth?" Is that some kind of technical broadcasting term?

A. Yes. It means "broadcast ho" — somebody who will do anything or say anything for money.

Q. When Imus "apologized" for his remark, he said it was "an insensitive and ill-conceived remark we made the other morning referring to the Rutgers women's basketball team. It was completely inappropriate, and we can understand why people were offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry." Why did Imus say "we" made the remark instead of "I" made the remark?

A. The royal "we" is often used by queens.

Q. Are you implying Imus is a queen? Isn't that insulting?

A. Yes. Sorry. Slip of the tongue. My apologies to queens. I meant to say that using a plural pronoun rather than a singular pronoun is often used to deny accepting personal responsibility and let the blame fall elsewhere.

Q. Was his apology sincere?

A. Absolutely. He is, in his words, sincerely insensitive, stupid, and thoughtless.

Q. Say, isn't he in the National Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame?

A. Yes. But as my father used to tell me, with regret: there are no Halls of Virtue, just Halls of Fame. In its bio of Imus, the Hall lauds his "personal insults and ribald humor," "coarse jokes," and "acid personality." It also notes that his on-air performances "got him fired on at least one occasion, and perhaps a lot more."

Q. Speaking of pop culture banality, were you shocked when the courts ruled that Larry Birkhead was the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby?

A. Sorry. I have never heard of Anna Nicole Smith. And considering the number of syllables involved, Billy Packer probably doesn't know who she was either. Should we have been listening to Imus all this time?

Q. Well, you might have heard about her if you watched ESPN's Pardon the Interruption regularly.

A. I do, and I love that show, but what's with Tony Kornheiser always talking about Dancing with the Stars and American Idol? Isn't PTI supposed to be about sports?

Q. Yes. But so it this column, and I'm supposed to be asking the questions. Could we please get back on topic?

A. Sorry once again. Fire away.

Q. Well, here's one — weren't the first North American Outgames held in Calgary this month? How did they go?

A. By all reports, the 25th annual Western Cup, billed this year as the Outgames, went just fine, with levels of sporting venues and competition comparable to those of the past two decades.

Q. Did they get the turnout they predicted?

A. Yes and no. Tourism publicists had said they expected in the neighborhood of 3,500 participants, and an advance story in Canada's Pink Triangle Press proclaimed that "thousands" would descend on the city center for the event. But Western Cup organizers told the Bay Area Reporter in January they expected in the neighborhood of 500 to 600 participants, roughly what they have gotten in previous years, and registrations indicate that's exactly what they got.

Q. Did the branding of the event as the Outgames with the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association, following the multimillion-dollar disaster in Montreal last year, bring more attention to the sports event this year in Calgary?

A. No. Previous Western Cups generated hundreds of references on the Internet, but hardly any regarding the Cup and its sports events occurred this year. The associated appearance of Lily Tomlin at an Outfest concert drew 1,300 and the speech to an Outrights conference by Mathew Shepard's mother, Judy, received publicity, but the Outsports themselves drew little coverage locally or internationally.

Q. Well, at least the athletes were happy and able to show their pride, yes?

A. Again, yes and no. Several complained that registration fees were lowered for later registrants while they were charged a higher fee (initially registrants had to pay for a "Party Pack" that included non-sports events), and several visiting athletes — as well as some locals— said they were unwilling to have their images videotaped or photographed publicly. Fear of being outed, even though the event, like the Gay Games and other LGBT-centric sports events, is supposed to be about acceptance, not orientation.

Q. So how will the 2007 event affect GLISA's hopes for the future, starting with the proposed second North American Outgames in 2008 in Philadelphia?

A. GLISA must still show it can overcome resistance in the sports community to the brand buy-in of the competition-conference-party trifecta the Outgames gambles on. The Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus bid has an apparent disconnect from the very active local LGBT community, similar to the outspoken opposition of Berlin's sports group Vorspiel when Berlin Games made an unsuccessful bid for the 2009 Outgames. And what GLISA, which offered no financial backing to the 2007 Outgames, actually has to offer remains unclear. As Vancouver sports activist Ken MacDonald wrote on a sports blog, "GLISA should be proud. They went into a town and talked the locals into adding their byline to an existing successful event (25th year) and did not ruin the event. But then, I am thinking that they should be really proud of the fact that their lack of support and any oversight whatsoever did not interfere with a machine that was already functioning well without them. The lack of any support or oversight makes their involvement a facade at best."