The big interview
Gareth Thomas on being gay in sport and switching to rugby league
The former Wales captain talks about his new life as a divorced, gay rugby player who recently switched sporting codes
- The Guardian, Tuesday 4 May 2010
It’s almost as if, in their wedded bliss, the framed couples are watching Thomas trying to adjust to his strange new life as a divorced, gay rugby player who has just switched from union to league.
Thomas, a former captain of Wales and the Lions who made 103 Test appearances, has become the only high-profile openly gay man in British sport – while playing rugby league for the aptly-named Crusaders.
“My first experience of moving here six weeks ago was funny,” the 35-year-old says. “After all the years of thinking, whenever people looked at me, ‘Can they guess I’m gay?’, it was different when I got here. Everybody knows I’m gay now. Everybody.”
Thomas laughs throatily, rubbing the tattoos on his heavily muscled upper arms as if reassuring himself that those changed perceptions, since he came out publicly last December, have been mostly positive. He has made life even more challenging by, at the same time, attempting to master the intricacies of a different code of rugby with a recently formed Super League club. But his sexuality, at least for now, overshadows everything.
“Tell me about it,” he chuckles. “I love the Crusader lads to bits. They’re brilliant. But for two weeks me being gay wasn’t mentioned. That means it’s lurking there. Our captain, Ryan O’Hara, is a real good bloke, an Aussie, and we get on great. But we were all standing around the physio room and Ryan said: ‘Did anyone hear about Ricky Martin [the singer who came out in March]?’ One of the other guys jumped in and said: ‘Ah, we’ve got rugby this afternoon.’ It was his way of changing the subject but the whole room went quiet. I got up and walked out because it felt uncomfy.”
Thomas shakes his head, looking briefly pained. “Then,” he says, brightening, “three days later, we all went out for a beer and Ryan sat me down and said: ‘Mate, how are you being gay – and all the boys knowing?’ I just shouted: ‘Halle-fucking-lujah!’
“The boys looked over and I shouted out to them as well. ‘Boys,’ I said, ‘I so respect the way you’ve handled this. But it’s OK – you can talk about it.’ It was such a respect thing they showed me but it’s much better now. Since then many of them have sat me down, one to one, and said: ‘Mate, we’ve got so much time for what you’ve done. It’s so brave, so powerful.’
“But I love them taking the piss. We’ve got another Australian on the wing, Nick Youngquest, and he’s a gay icon. He’s been on the cover of Attitude but he’s comfortable in his [straight] sexuality. It still gives the boys a laugh because they say to me: ‘Oooo, he’s not so happy now you’re taking over.’ Me and Nick are good mates and we’ll walk in the room together and someone will shout: ‘Here come the girls!’”
Thomas laughs again, until he is asked to explain his contrasting feelings when, against Castleford in his second match, he was abused by opposition fans. “I have to break it up into pieces to understand. I hate the word ‘pioneer’ but there’s no escaping the fact I’m the first. So for me to get abuse is, in a weird way, a good thing.
“Afterwards the Rugby League Commission fined Castleford. We went to Bradford the week after and I was told the stewards had been briefed that if there was any abuse aimed at me then they had to eject those fans because they didn’t want to be fined. The next [gay] person that follows me will be glad I’ve opened the door because they’re not going to get the same abuse.”
There is still a vulnerability to Thomas which he might not have dared reveal when he was regarded as a hard man of Welsh rugby. He looks up ruefully when asked why he chooses to live in a hotel. “I’m un-self-sufficient,” he says. “I can’t look after myself. I really can’t. So here is good for me. I have my meals made. I have my bed made. The girls on reception are lovely. And I like the interaction with people. I don’t like being on my own.
“I’m always buying the girls chocolate and flowers – just to be nice. And then I chat with them to see how their day has gone. They like it because, otherwise, they’re bored as shit. And then I’ll banter with the boys in the restaurant. It means I don’t feel lonely.”
What about those moments when, alone, he walks down the corridor of wedding photos? Is it not, sometimes, unbearable? “I had that feeling yesterday. That was the feeling that kicked me in the guts.”
It takes a moment to realise he is not mocking the cheesy photographs. He is, instead, mourning his wife. “Jemma’s in Spain now, and I’m here. I know that has to be the right place for both of us. But not a day goes by when I don’t think about her, when I don’t miss her. It wasn’t right, what I was doing to her, but that doesn’t change the fact I really loved her.
“Yesterday I couldn’t stop thinking where would I be now, with Jemma, if things had been different. You come to a crossroads and you take one road because it’s right for you. But that doesn’t stop you wondering where the other road might have led. A lot of people can’t understand what me and Jemma had. They think, ‘You’re gay so how can you love this woman at the same time?’ But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Jemma said the same. So when people tell me I was wrong to marry her I want to say, ‘You don’t know how I felt. You don’t know how much I loved her. You don’t know how much it broke me up to see her heart breaking.’”
His voice is ragged, but Thomas keeps talking. “So many of our friends split up for pathetic reasons. But Jemma and I had to separate because of something huge. We had something that would have gone on forever otherwise. But I had to let her go. I was crying yesterday because I felt all the emotions from when I was having to tell Jemma about me being gay. It brought back the memories of so many bad times but, also, so many good times.”
That poignant backdrop has been accentuated by the matching response of Jemma – who has said she is more proud of her ex-husband now than she has ever been. It is a reaction apparently shared by her family. “They’ve been brilliant,” Thomas says. “I got a message from Jemma’s dad. He said, ‘I’ve heard about your move into rugby league, mate, and I’m just calling to wish you all the best.’ Amazing.”
Thomas’s own parents have been even more supportive, despite his surprising admission: “I don’t think I’ve ever told them I’m gay. When me and Jemma split they kind of put two and two together. At the time I couldn’t really say the word ‘gay’ because I wasn’t ready. Now I know they know and so we haven’t had the big dramatic conversation.
“When I announced it publicly I asked them if they wanted to read the article first but dad said, no, it was OK. I went to see them the night it came out and I thought they’d be tired. But mum insisted on opening some champagne. She said it was a celebration of the rest of my life and so there I sat, drinking champagne with them, thinking how daft I’d been to worry for so many years about them finding out.”
His fears were understandable. “My old man works in the postal service, my mum in a hospital and my brother in a factory. They’re my family and when I play rugby I’m representing them. But coming out was different. More than anyone, I feared for my father. I used to be a postman myself and so I know that working environment. It’s a macho world and I was worried about him going into work and hearing bad things about me. But I think he’s 10 times prouder of me now than six months ago.”
Thomas looks up, eyes gleaming, when I ask if his mother is a Crusaders fan? “She’s a big Alfie fan, mate,” he says, alluding to his nickname. “She’s the same as any mum. Mind you, they’ve just signed up to Sky so they can watch me.”
This Sunday they will be able to watch their beloved Alfie playing for the Crusaders in the Challenge Cup against the Catalans Dragons on the BBC. “If we win it,” he enthuses, “we’ll be in the quarters and two matches away from Wembley.”
Thomas, who had his best game for Crusaders last Saturday, during a 19-0 demolition of Bradford, is clearly improving and adapting to the sheer physicality of league. “I recently made 17 carries in one game. I felt it the next morning because, as a wing in union, you make 17 carries in a season. But I love it.”
He might still be a raw league novice, after only six weeks in the game, but time is closing in fast on Thomas’s tumultuous sporting career. “It’s scary, and I’ll miss the dressing room most of all. If you could bottle that special feeling you sometimes get in a dressing room just before a match, you’d be a billionaire. But I’m working on this company we’ve set up called Distinct Management – it will help sportsmen and creative people by looking after their business and practical needs while they focus on their careers. I’m excited about that.”
It’s raining again outside, and Thomas scrunches up his face when asked if he is feeling better than he had done the previous day. “Mate, the richest man in the world has his down days. The most famous man in the world has his down days. It’s life. But, for me, the rainy moments are isolated moments. I’m always at least half-full. And the rest of the time I’m smiling – all the way up to the brim.”
Rogers Cup: No guarantees of Nadal, Federer final
Deep field could derail dream matchup
Last Updated: Monday, August 9, 2010 | 10:14 AM ET Comments15Recommend15
By Tony Care, CBC Sports
Nadal — the top-ranked player in the world — will be at one end of the seeding bracket in Toronto while No. 3 Federer sits on the other side. While play begins Monday, Nadal and Federer drew byes into the second round.
Watch live coverage of the Rogers Cup on CBC.
The main network will televise both of the semifinals on August 14 (at 3pm and 7pm ET) and the final on August 15 (at 1:30 pm ET)
All three matches will also be streamed live on CBCSports.ca.
But should fans make plans for a final pitting the two most dominant men’s tennis players of the last half-decade?
Not so fast.
Peter Burwash, CBC Sports analyst for the Rogers Cup, gives the highly anticipated matchup a remote chance of taking place.
“I say five or 10 per cent,” Burwash said of a possible Nadal and Federer clash.
“The one downside is Federer and Nadal are coming off significant layoffs from Wimbledon, and so we do see a lot more upsets in this type of tournament rather than the normal part of the year.”
Another roadblock for Nadal and Federer, who have combined for 24 Grand Slam titles, is the depth in field. Eighth of the top 10 men are in Toronto, with only No. 7 Juan del Potro, who has a back injury, pulling out of the tournament.
“I’m really impressed [with the field],” Burwash said. “There’s a lot of diversity with the top 20 players now. I wasn’t a big fan of the men’s game about six or seven years ago.
“Now the players are getting smarter. They’re starting to use their intelligence a little bit more on the court. The players are in much better condition, they’re much tougher, and we’re seeing a lot of tough three-setters now.”
Here’s a look at the contenders for the Rogers Centre’s men’s main draw, which takes place at York University’s Rexall Place, with Burwash’s breakdown:
- ATP ranking: 1
- Resumé: 8 Grand Slam titles, two-time Rogers Cup champion
Nadal is clearly on top of his game. The Spaniard has won the last two Grand Slam titles (French Open and Wimbledon) in impressive fashion. The only question centres on Nadal’s durability, since his persistent knee problems can flare up at any moment.
Burwash: There are certain players who perform at 100 per cent in practice and Nadal is one of those players. When you watch him, you wouldn’t know whether he’s in a match or practising. And that’s what makes him so darn good. He has a great temperament for the game.
- ATP ranking: 2
- Resumé: Australian Open champion (2008), Rogers Cup champion (2007)
Defending Rogers Cup champion Andy Murray has yet to taste victory in 2010. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press) Djokovic overtook Federer for No. 2 on the ATP Tour, but the Serb hasn’t exactly lit the tennis world on fire since capturing the Australian Open two years ago. Djokovic has managed just two semifinal appearances in his last six Grand Slam competitions but won’t be an easy out in Toronto.
Burwash: I would be very surprised if he wasn’t a semifinalist. He’s a really tough opponent to play because he’s fundamentally sound from the ground. He’s extremely challenging [and] he doesn’t give away a lot of easy points. But the one thing is, you can get into his head. He calls for the trainer a lot, which agitates [opposing] players … they get bugged by that.
- ATP ranking: 3
- Resumé: 16 Grand Slam titles, two-time Rogers Cup champion
Federer began the season with a bang after winning the Australian Open, but his play has dipped during the last few months. Federer failed to advance to the semifinal at the French Open — the first time in an amazing 23 Grand Slam events — and also suffered an early exit at Wimbledon. Still, we’re talking about a man who has dominated the sport like no other male player before him. In addition, he hired respected coach Paul Annacone, who coached Hall of Famer Pete Sampras, last month to help him with his game.
Burwash: I think I’m the only analyst who has talked about Roger Federer not having the best forehand [right now]. When he’s confident, it’s extremely dangerous and could very well [be] the best forehand in the world. He has a very low trajectory so he’s playing with a low margin of error. When you don’t have confidence, that margin of error goes as well. For Roger right now, the confidence factor is really the critical issue for him. But Roger Federer will always go down as one of the most respected tennis players ever.
- ATP ranking: 4
- Resumé: Rogers Cup champion (2009)
All that talent and yet Murray hasn’t won a Grand Slam title during his career or a tour victory this season. Murray baffles tennis pundits because his game is significantly better than what he’s shown this year. However, if he’s able to defend his Rogers Cup title, Murray will have more confidence heading into September’s U.S. Open.
Burwash: When Andy is on the court he’s constantly looking at his emotional support structure — family, friends. If he can just get away from that and play within himself, he’d be in good shape, because he’s probably the smartest player on tour right now.
- ATP ranking: 5
- Resumé: Two-time French Open finalist
Soderling was the first Swede to advance to the French Open final (2009) since his coach Magnus Norman made an appearance in 2000. The 25-year-old definitely has the power game to be a mainstay on the ATP Tour.
Burwash: He’s a big tournament player now and is certainly someone that has to be reckoned with. He’s been inconsistent over his career but has such a big forehand and a huge serve. The question is whether he can be mentally consistent.
- ATP ranking: 6
- Resumé: 20 ATP Tour titles
The Russian’s biggest win to date came in 2009, at the year-ending Barclays ATP Tour Finals in London when he defeated Juan del Potro. While not a flashy player, Davydenko frustrates opponents with his feisty game.
Burwash: He’s a pain in the neck to play against. He’s improved tremendously and has fixed up his serve. He’s hitting the ball a lot flatter and is playing shorter points. Davydenko is a good, solid player. He’s not the most charismatic player on tour but is a very clean and smooth [player].
- ATP ranking: 11
- Resumé: U.S. Open champion (2003), Rogers Cup champion (2003)
It’s hard to believe that Roddick only has one Grand Slam title to his name. Even with one of the most powerful serves in the history of tennis, Roddick has certainly endured his peeks and valleys in the last seven years. Roddick saw his ATP Tour ranking drop from No. 9 to 11 on Monday after he lost a third-round matchup to France’s Gilles Simon last week at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington. But the American loves to play in this tournament and should be a formidable opponent.
Burwash: He would be one of my top 3 favourites going in [and coach] Larry Stefanki has done a great job with him. The good thing about Andy is that even at 27, he is truly willing to make changes in his game. His serve always is tough to break and he plays well in Canada.
- ATP ranking: 368
- Rogers Cup: Wildcard entry
The 25-year-old from Niagara Falls is making his ninth appearance and had his best showing in 2007, when he reached the quarter-finals in Montreal. Dancevic also climbed to his highest ranking (65) a short time later.
- ATP ranking 328
- Rogers Cup: Wildcard entry
Making his third appearance in the main draw, Duclos, 24, has been a consistent performer on the ATP Challenger Tour circuit, reaching the quarter-finals at two events this season. A first-round victory by Duclos would set up a matchup with American Andy Roddick.
- ATP ranking: 200
- Rogers Cup: Wildcard entry
The top-ranked Canadian male, 22, won his opening match at last year’s Rogers Cup in Montreal, but fell to Serbian Novak Djokovic in the second round. Polansky, from Thornhill, Ont., has also reached the semifinal at a Challenger even in Carson, Calif., this season.
- ATP ranking: 209
- Rogers Cup: Wildcard entry
Competing in his second Rogers Cup tournament, Raonic made the 2009 event by knocking off a pair of top 115 opponents (Michael Llodra and Teymuraz Gabashvili). Should Raonic and Polansky win their respective opening matches, the Canadians will square off in the second round.
Should Government Get Out Of Marriage Business?
Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi touts an idea that’s been gaining some steam as the argument over gay marriage heats up: “isn’t it about time we freed marriage from the state?”
Imagine if government had no interest in the definition of marriage. Individuals could commit to each other, head to the local priest or rabbi or shaman — or no one at all — and enter into contractual agreements, call their blissful union whatever they felt it should be called and go about the business of their lives.
While we’re at it, imagine there’s no Heaven, no countries, no possessions, and all the people sharing all the world!
I certainly don’t believe that gay marriage will trigger societal instability or undermine traditional marriage — we already have that covered — but mostly I believe your private relationships are none of my business. And without any government role in the institution, it wouldn’t be the business of the 9th Circuit Court, either.
As the debate stands now, we have two activist groups trying to force their own ethical construction of marriage on the rest of us. And to enforce it, they have been using the power of the state — one via majority rule and the other using the judiciary (subject to change with the vagaries of public opinion).
GayPatriot‘s B. Daniel Blatt likes the idea:
Harsanyi noted that even Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who bent over backwards to appease gay groups at Harvard Law School, “recently wrote that ‘There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.’” She’s right on that one.
Nothing in the constitution mandates that the states recognize same-sex marriage. By the same token, nothing in the constitution requires that courts overturn state actions recognizing same-sex marriage. Indeed, it’s pretty clear that the constitution protects such actions.
All that said, Harsanyi is on to something. We could avoid all these battles if the state simply removed itself from the business of marriage.
Jeff Goldstein demurs:
Well, there’s that and the thousands of years of precedent about what marriage is and what it isn’t — but to certain libertarians, that’s to be casually tossed aside as “none of their business.”
I disagree. The state has certain reasons to promote certain behaviors — and marriage traditionally understood, though it doesn’t always culminate in new citizens, taxpayers, etc., does at least form the basis for a family structure that historically (and biologically) best serves children.
The point being that the state’s involvement in marriage is only a problem when the courts begin making pronouncements that marriage, as it has long been defined, is itself a kind of arbitrary and illegitimate exercise — that “gender” shouldn’t matter in the makeup of the coupling that comes to count as “marriage”.
We opened Thursday’s OTB Radio with a longish discussion of Walker’s ruling and touched on this idea a bit. Dave Schuler argued that, if the definition of “marriage” is expanded beyond traditional definitions, we should drop it as a civil institution altogether and make it the province of churches. Doug Mataconis thinks it a good idea, generally.
When the idea was first being batted around several years ago, I favored it. Now, I’m not so sure.
In a classic case of Where you stand is where you sit, I’ve married and had a child in the interim. And it’s clear to me that we need the convenience of an institution like marriage and its various legal protections for partners and their children.
Now, I suppose we could replace it with a set of complicated contracts: wills, powers of attorney, adoptions, and so forth. But that would be much more burdensome than a single legal act that solves the issues. And there’s always the chance of sudden death that puts things into legal limbo before the parties would have an opportunity to execute a particular contract. Say, one parent dies during childbirth or just before. Now, custody is a non-issue if the couple is married. If the parents were in a mere business relationship consecrated by a series of contracts, it would be murkier and require legal wrangling at a particularly emotional time.
Presumably, all of that’s solvable. But, essentially, you’d be re-creating civil marriage under another name. Which seems rather pointless, since we already have it.
Unless, of course, the sacramental nature of the word “marriage” is truly what the gay marriage debate is about. Would the objections melt away if we simply started having civil unions — or whatever you want to name the institution — rather than “marriage” for all couples, regardless of gender combination. I seriously doubt it. The subset of Americans who enthusiastically support same-sex relationships but merely object to the word “marriage” on religious grounds is small, indeed.
About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway and the managing editor of the Atlantic Council. He’s a former Army officer, Desert Storm vet, and college professor with a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. He lives just outside the Beltway in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife and infant daughter. Follow James on FriendFeed | Twitter | Digg
Outside The Beltway Article: Tiger Woods Predilection For White Women Speaks Volumes About His Private Beliefs About Race.
Tiger Woods Affairs Highlight Racial Attitudes
Perusing Yahoo! News last night, I came across a rather amusing AP story titled “Tiger’s troubles widen his distance from blacks.”
Amid all the headlines generated by Tiger Woods’ troubles — the puzzling car accident, the suggestions of marital turmoil and multiple mistresses — little attention has been given to the race of the women linked with the world’s greatest golfer. Except in the black community.
When three white women were said to be romantically involved with Woods in addition to his blonde, Swedish wife, blogs, airwaves and barbershops started humming, and Woods’ already tenuous standing among many blacks took a beating.
On the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner radio show, Woods was the butt of jokes all week. “Thankfully, Tiger, you didn’t marry a black woman. Because if a sister caught you running around with a bunch of white hoochie-mamas,” one parody suggests in song, she would have castrated him. “The Grinch’s Theme Song” didn’t stop there: “The question everyone in America wants to ask you is, how many white women does one brother waaant?”
As one blogger, Robert Paul Reyes, wrote: “If Tiger Woods had cheated on his gorgeous white wife with black women, the golfing great’s accident would have been barely a blip in the blogosphere.”
The darts reflect blacks’ resistance to interracial romance. They also are a reflection of discomfort with a man who has smashed barriers in one of America’s whitest sports and assumed the mantle of the world’s most famous athlete, once worn by Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.
But Woods has declined to identify himself as black, and famously chose the term “Cablinasian” (Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian) to describe the racial mixture he inherited from his African-American father and Thai mother.
So much for the post-racial America that the election of a biracial president who looks black was supposed to yield. But it’s not surprising, really.
Stacy McCain defends AP from charges of racism, observing, “Imagine the media uproar if white people had made a race issue about Tiger Woods’ affairs. Therefore, if Associated Press had ignored the (evidently) widespread criticism from blacks, they might have been accused of bias, as if black criticism of Woods was not newsworthy.”
True. Although I’d wager they’d have treated the story much differently.
NYDailyNews headlined the same story “Tiger Woods alienates black community with white lovers.” But the point isn’t that Tom Joyner (no relation, so far as I know) or the other blacks in the story are racist. It’s merely an interesting cultural phenomenon.
Black women have long felt slighted by the tendency of famous black men to pair with white women, and many have a list of current transgressors at the ready. “We’ve discussed this for years among black women,” said Denene Millner, author of several books on black relationships. “Why is it when they get to this level … they tend to go directly for the nearest blonde?”
“There is a call for loyalty that is stronger in some ways than in other racial communities,” said the author of the study, George Yancey, a sociology professor at the University of North Texas and author of the book “Just Don’t Marry One.”
Carmen Van Kerckhove, founder of the race-meets-pop-culture blog Racialicious, said there have been frequent discussions on her site about the fine line between preference and fetish. “Is there any difference between a white guy with a thing for blondes, and a non-white guy with a thing for blondes?” asked Van Kerckhove, who has a Chinese mother, a Belgian father and a husband born in America to parents from Benin. She claims that Asians don’t fully embrace Woods, either. “There are two layers of suspicion toward him,” Van Kerkhove said. “One toward the apparent pattern in the race of his partners, and the second in the way he sees himself. … People have been giving him the side-eye for a while.”
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a mate who shares your culture, as long as it’s for the right reasons, the comedienne Sheryl Underwood said after unleashing a withering Woods monologue on Tom Joyner’s radio show. “Would we question when a Jewish person wants to marry other Jewish people?” she said in an interview. “It’s not racist. It’s not bigotry. It’s cultural pride.” “The issue comes in when you choose something white because you think it’s better,” Underwood said. “And then you never date a black woman or a woman of color or you never sample the greatness of the international buffet of human beings. If you never do that, we got a problem.”
The key difference here is that while both white and black opposition to inter-racial marriage can stem from “cultural pride,” an undercurrent of inferiority/superiority underlies much of the angst. And the frustration among blacks — especially black women — over black men marrying white women is the perception that they see themselves as “trading up” in so doing. Dating and marrying white women is seen by many as a status symbol.
About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway and the managing editor of the Atlantic Council. He’s a former Army officer, Desert Storm vet, and college professor with a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. He lives just outside the Beltway in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife and infant daughter. Follow James on FriendFeed | Twitter | Digg
Tiger’s validation complex
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Leave Tiger alone. Enough with the puns — we get that he’s really just a “cheetah” in disguise. Enough with the Barbie-of-the-Day revelations — we get that he’s attracted to a certain type. Enough with the whole thing — we have far more important things to worry about.
Yeah, right. Sit down with a friend over lunch and try to have a conversation about health care, climate change, financial regulation or Afghanistan without straying at least once onto the oh-so-unimportant subject of Tiger Woods’s philandering. I’ve given up trying to deny that the unfolding saga is compelling, even if paying attention leaves me feeling a bit disappointed in myself. Prurient interest is rarely something to be proud of.
I’m beginning to fear, actually, that the unfolding may never end. If you’re the richest, most famous athlete on the planet, and you have an eye for cocktail waitresses and nightclub hostesses, the opportunities to cheat are probably limited only by the number of hours in the day. It’s becoming clear why Woods’s initial mea culpa was worded vaguely to cover any and all “transgressions.” Wouldn’t want to leave anybody out.
I’m not going to pronounce judgment on Woods’s moral fiber, except to state that adultery is bad. I’m also not going to judge the women who have reportedly had affairs with him, except to point out how quick they’ve been, as soon as their names have surfaced, to retain high-priced legal counsel. I will suggest that Woods consider this possibility: Random women he meets in restaurants or bars may not be reduced to putty by his good looks or sparkling wit, but may in fact be aware of how wealthy he is.
I was going to critique Woods’s technique of adultery, or at least his apparent selection of playmates, as measured against a theory about philandering developed by my colleague Roxanne Roberts, who has spent years covering the capital’s libidinous social scene for The Post. Roberts postulates that famous, powerful men who stray would be smart to choose women who have just as much to lose if the liaison were exposed. Some ultra-rich tycoon’s young trophy wife, say, would fit that criterion. Cocktail waitresses and nightclub hostesses, not so much.
In fact, Woods seems to have hooked up with the kind of women who save old voice mails and text messages — giving their high-priced legal counsel something to work with.
But as more women surface with claims to have bedded Woods, one does begin to marvel at his capacity for multitasking. He is known on the golf course for almost superhuman powers of concentration. Who knew that between shots he was also juggling such complicated logistical arrangements? Or did he have an off-the-course caddie to help with that sort of thing, the way Steve Williams helps him choose between the seven-iron and the eight?
Here’s my real question, though: What’s with the whole Barbie thing?
No offense to anyone who actually looks like Barbie, but it really is striking how much the women who’ve been linked to Woods resemble one another. I’m talking about the long hair, the specific body type, even the facial features. Mattel could sue for trademark infringement.
This may be the most interesting aspect of the whole Tiger Woods story — and one of the most disappointing. He seems to have been bent on proving to himself that he could have any woman he wanted. But from the evidence, his aim wasn’t variety but some kind of validation.
I’m making a big assumption here that the attraction for Woods was mostly physical, but there’s no evidence thus far that he had a lot of time for deep conversation. If adultery is really about the power and satisfaction of conquest, Woods’s self-esteem was apparently only boosted by bedding the kind of woman he thought other men lusted after — the “Playmate of the Month” type that Hugh Hefner turned into the American gold standard.
But the world is full of beautiful women of all colors, shapes and sizes — some with short hair or almond eyes, some with broad noses, some with yellow or brown skin. Woods appears to have bought into an “official” standard of beauty that is so conventional as to be almost oppressive.
His taste in mistresses leaves the impression of a man who is, deep down, both insecure and image-conscious — a control freak even when he’s committing “transgressions.”
We Are Respectable Negroes Article: Is Tiger Woods Addiction To White Women The Real Reason The White Media Destroyed Him?
Tiger Woods is Addicted to White Women or People’s Exhibit Number One in the 21st Century Post-Racial Museum of Racial Absurdities
“Out of the blackest part of my soul, across the zebra striping of my mind, surges this desire to be suddenly white. I wish to be acknowledged not as black but as white…who but a white woman can do this for me? By loving me she proves that I am worthy of white love. I am loved like a white man…I marry white culture, white beauty, white whiteness. When my restless hands caress those white breasts, they grasp white civilization and dignity and make them mine.”
I had no comment to offer on Tiger Woods’ indiscretions until I rediscovered the above quote. Fanon so perfectly describes Woods’ sickness that it demanded I proceed. So Tiger, I guess you ain’t had it right ’till you had it white, no?
I am a huge fan of the “swirl”–the intermingling of bodies differently hued in the midst of hot, sweaty, lovemaking. Moreover, I have never understood so much energy expended over one’s choice of who to bed and for what reasons. That qualifier being known, Tiger Woods is a special case.
If Tiger were worthy of blackness I would label him a “tragic negro.” But, for all of his gifts, he walked away from his ancestry and history. To boot, Woods is self-hating (see this article in Esquire magazine where he revels in telling white folks racist jokes about black people). Predictably, Woods does not have the blues sensibility that comes from a sense of belonging to the Black Atlantic. Tiger does not hear the drum–nor does he ever want to.
I am accommodating. If Woods had said “hey, my mom is Asian, my dad is Black, and I honor both,” I could respect him, rather, against the force of history and commonsense, Tiger in the height of arrogance, invents his own race. Now a “Cablinasian,” Woods is his own man, not standing on the shoulders of those athletes of color who struggled to open doors that he now freely walks through. Tiger is now/was an island onto himself.
During his ascension, I was tempted to let Woods stay in self-imposed racial exile as the multicultural marketing machine that is 21st century corporate America, of which he was one of its greatest examples, used him–and he used it. Like OJ Simpson before him (Hertz jumping, airport running, Nicole Simpson white prize possessing negro that he is) Woods was given a pass into nominal whiteness. Just like soccer legend Pele in the “racial democracy” that is Brazil–who ironically was the butt of the joke that only in Brazil could Pele (a dark skinned black man) be “white”–Woods has so much money that some would allow him this latitude of racial self-invention.
But like so many of wealth and prestige, Tiger Woods could not resist drinking deeply from the fountain of self-indulgence. Whiteness, or to be more specific, White women, were his ambrosia. Like a mere mortal at a feast of Dionysus hosted by Pan, Woods drank too deeply to only awaken drunken on a neighbor’s lawn in the midst of a maelstrom of his own making.
Who knows what will come of Tiger. Financially, he will be fine. Rich before. Rich now. Rich later. To his credit, Woods is consistent. If one looks at the rogues gallery that are his mistresses and dalliances he does have a particular taste: white of any hue, station, habitus, beauty, or way. Pity then, that this appetite would be his destruction (Even more sad given Tiger’s resources. I must ask the obvious: Could he not have found women that were on average more attractive? At least possessing the class and beauty of his wife as opposed to some Jersey shore castoffs or a woman picked up at Dave and Busters or Hooters?).
The DSM-IV, the bible for psychotherapists, has a pithy diagnosis for Woods’ behavior: he is addicted to white women.
Please do not misunderstand me. It is not the fact that Woods likes white women that is so troubling. I could care less. What is troubling, is that Tiger so needs a certain type of woman as a means of immunizing himself–or so he thought–from his own blackness. This is a mode of racial fetishizing and obsession that is dishonorable to Woods’ family. It is also, at least in my opinion, doubly insulting to the women that Woods bedded for he did not want them because they happened to be White. No, he wanted these women precisely because they were White. This is a subtle but very important distinction.
Pray tell, who better than Tiger Woods exemplifies the following description of the sickness that is “addiction?”
The term “addiction” is used in many contexts to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive psychological dependence, such as: drug addiction (e.g. alcoholism, nicotine addiction), problem gambling, crime, money, work addiction, compulsive overeating, credit card addiction, compulsive debting, computer addiction, video game addiction, pornography addiction, television addiction, etc. In medical terminology, an addiction is a chronic neurobiologic disorder that has genetic, psychosocial, and environmental dimensions…The term addiction is also sometimes applied to compulsions that are not substance-related, such as problem gambling and computer addiction. In these kinds of common usages, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the user themself to their individual health, mental state, or social life.
Examiner Article: Does Tiger Woods Hate Himself? Is This The Real Reason He Sleeps Only With White Women?
Tiger’s problem is his ‘clutter’, not his putter….
As I write this piece, Tiger Woods is struggling again, this time, at the British Open in St Andrews, a course he has literally owned, each time he’s been there.
There are those sports and other pundits that will point to his new Nike putter, while some will blame it away at his lack of focus, as a result of the problems in his marriage.
Well, for starters, the problem as I see it, has absolutely nothing to do with his putter. It never really has.
For those of us who have followed him closely, since he burst onto the scene in dramatic fashion, close to 13 years ago, we always knew Tiger was going to be special.
However, as time went on, I began to see certain signs of trouble. The first sign that something was not all-together-there between his ears, was his reference to himself as caublanasian.
A friend of mine from West Africa asked what exactly was wrong with Woods, when he said that. I merely shook my head at the obvious naivety of this basically good human being (Tiger), who was sure to get a dose of reality, at the appointed time.
Anyone who knows the history of this country understands quite clearly that once you have even the slightest drop of black blood in you, nothing can change the fact (and indeed the reality) that you will be referred to as black.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, but far too many successful black athletes and celebrities (mostly male) try to run away from the reality of who they are, thus making it seem as if it is wrong, or somehow inferior to be black.
Tiger’s obvious self-hatred even extended to his own mother.
Now for those who would be quick to chastise me for daring to tell Tiger, whom he could marry or love, please note that the post-slavery behavior of black men intentionally seeking out women of other races, is well documented. Particular those women of the perceived ‘superior race’ as a result of slavery.
It is in my opinion, a marked sign of a debilitating inferiority complex. Of all the white women in this world, since Tiger wanted a white woman that bad, all Tiger could get, with his billion dollars was a nanny?!
And please spare me the Swedish model hubris. Her claim to fame was as a nanny for a Swedish ‘part-time’ golfer.
If Tiger could not see himself getting along with black women (for whatever reason), what was wrong with Asian women, particularly those of his mother’s heritage?
The truth is, like majority of black male athletes and celebrities in America, the white woman is their ultimate symbol of accomplishment. She is the trophy wife, the one they’ve dreamed of owning, their whole lives and they would readily give anything, to possess her.
That Tiger Woods, a Stanford alum, raised in middle-class settings in California and provided with the opportunity that most minority males could only dream of, could not find a single, educated woman of either an African-American or Asian heritage, gives an insight as to some inherent flaws, in his upbringing.
As an African immigrant, who has actually had the privilege of dating women from all backgrounds (and now happily married), I have no problems with interracial dating or even marriage. What I do however take issue with is the myopic notion (a warped thought process between the ears) by some successful black males, that if ain’t white, it ain’t good enough.
That is just plain wrong and remains a daunting vestige of slavery, but then slavery has ended, so its time to get a grip brothers!
The truth is that white America, as much as they admired Tiger, never liked his dalliance with white women, blondes in particular.
We can all sugar-coat our words and try to appear as politically correct as possible. The reality is simply what it is and I bring it to you live and with no holds barred.
As if Tiger’s domination of a basically white sport and consequent assault on Jack Nicklaus’ record was not enough of an affront, he then chose to marry the very ‘epitome of white beauty’.
If you never knew who Tiger was and was just a casual observer, seeing the virulent vituperation being spewed his way lately (since the alleged adulterous affairs), you would think he killed someone.
Tiger sure has a lot to deal with. He has a lot of mental and emotional clutter he needs to clean out.
The truth is, he brought it all upon himself and until he comes to terms with the reality of who and what he really is, the putter won’t do much good.
It may however not be that simple, as the damage may have already been done.
Premiers, native leaders talk education
Improving aboriginal education is a major issue Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers are tackling as they meet with native leaders in Churchill, Man.
The premiers are in northern Manitoba to meet with the leaders of four national aboriginal organizations, including the Assembly of First Nations.
Improving learning for aboriginals will help lift them out of poverty and engage them in the economy, said Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, who is hosting Wednesday’s meeting, said the premiers will talk about ways “to increase graduation rates for … aboriginal people,” as well as ensure there are opportunities for aboriginal people in the labour market.
Raise standards: N.W.T. premier
Northwest Territories Premier Floyd Roland said education standards need to be raised in many aboriginal communities, including those in his territory.
“That’s one of the things we need to do, is continue to work on and improve … that quality of education so that when we have Grade 12 students come out of the Northwest Territories they can go to any part of Canada and compete at that level,” Roland said Tuesday, as the premiers attended a community feast in Churchill.
Among the other issues the premiers and aboriginal leaders plan to discuss, Atleo said the number of missing and murdered aboriginal woman across Canada remains a major concern.
“It really is something that must be addressed at a national level,” he said. “It’s very much a crisis issue that we face; it has to do with the justice system.”
After the meeting in Churchill, the premiers will head to Winnipeg for their annual Council of the Federation conference, where the economy and health care will be on the agenda.
Those talks will be held at Winnipeg’s historic Hotel Fort Garry on Thursday and Friday.
It is expected the leaders attending the Winnipeg meeting will also discuss bilateral Canada-U.S. matters and other international initiatives.
Toronto Star Article: The Canadian Government Is Discriminating Against The Aboriginal Canadians Not Providing Clean Drinking Water!!
First Nation community of 900 in northern Ontario without clean water
Children of Constance Lake First Nation are eager to swim, but authorities have warned the community the algae is toxic, says Chief Arthur Moore.
More than a week after the Constance Lake First Nation in northern Ontario declared a state of emergency, more than 900 people in the community remain without clean water.
Constance Lake Chief Arthur Moore demanded urgent action from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to address the crisis of thick, blue-green algae that covers large swathes of the lake. It can’t be filtered through the town’s old water purification plant.
The federal ministry is responsible for water quality on reserves.
“This is so frustrating,” said Moore Wednesday, in a telephone interview from Constance Lake, a Cree and Ojibwa community north of Lake Superior. He says he’s been told informally the algae is toxic and can’t be used for drinking or washing without being boiled. It presents a hygiene risk.
“We have infants, children, elders, a seniors’ home, a high school, and we’re very worried about everybody’s health.”
The community is shipping in bottled water from Hearst, about 50 kilometers west of Constance Lake, as well as boiling, but it’s a short-term fix.
An official with the Indian Affairs ministry told the Toronto Star Wednesday Ottawa has committed funds to trucking in water, as well as supplying bottled water until the problem can be resolved. The official also said provincial entities, including the Ontario Clean Water Agency, are co-operating with technical expertise.
It’s not as if the problem is new. The water purification plant is 35 years old, lacks the capacity to filter the water and does not comply with Ontario regulations, according to Moore.
Moreover, First Nations’ records show 114 aboriginal communities across Canada are under drinking water advisories this summer, and (of these) 49 water systems are classified as “high risk.”
The federal official said Ottawa has committed an undisclosed amount to Constance Lake for the exploration of alternative sources of water, such as well drilling and a mobile water treatment facility. But the official had no comment on solving the algae problem or providing a new, permanent treatment facility.
“Access to a safe and useable water supply is a right of every person living in this country. My community is suffering and I fear the lack of clean water will lead to despair and ill health,” said Moore. “No one should have to live in these kinds of conditions.”
An official with the Ontario ministry of aboriginal affairs said it’s an “unfortunate situation” in Constance Lake, adding Aboriginal Affairs Minister Chris Bentley telephoned Moore to express concern.
Critics suggest politicians and officials wouldn’t be dawdling – as seems to be the case year after year – if southern, urban centres were without clean water. In some northern communities, notably Kashechewan, children had open sores after an outbreak of E. coli.
“Think about trying to survive with only litres of bottled water a day for all of your drinking bathing, washing and cooking needs,” said Moore. “This water system shutdown will cause economic, social and major health concerns for the community of Constance Lake.”
Moore also stressed that, with the water coated in algae, kids can’t swim during the short summer period of warmer water. When he went to the shoreline to take photos for the Star, a group of children followed him, shouting and laughing because they thought somebody was going to deal with their problem and they could look forward to swimming.
He said that, as he understands the protocol, there are many bureaucratic steps before the federal government can even address the issues at the purification plant, including verifying the problem, finding funds for a new water treatment plant, doing feasibility studies and other time-consuming measures involved.
“We need clean water now,” he said. “Surely, the people here matter now.”
Moore noted the irony of his community declaring a state of emergency on July 28, the same day the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution recognizing water as a basic human right. Several powerful nations, including Canada, abstained.
Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians national chair who fought for the UN resolution, urged all First Nations to start using the resolution in their struggles to get the federal government to honour its commitment to provide clean water to aboriginal peoples.
She said the resolution is non-binding, but that global organizations are working towards stronger legislation that would be binding.
“In the meantime, there’s a strong moral imperative for the government to redress this terrible injustice,” said Barlow, in an interview. “If this were happening in downtown Toronto or Vancouver, you can be sure the government would be using all the power it has to fix the problem and provide safe drinking water.
First nations are very vulnerable. It’s an outrage.”