Read Jocks: True Stories of America's Gay Male Athletes by Dan Woog Online


Profiles several dozen young male athletes who have in most cases come out as homosexual to their coaches, teammates, and fellow students, with advice for coaches on dealing with homophobia....

Title : Jocks: True Stories of America's Gay Male Athletes
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781555833992
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 236 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Jocks: True Stories of America's Gay Male Athletes Reviews

  • Peter William Warn
    2019-03-07 00:04

    Those damn women. One of the men profiled in Jocks: True Stories of America's Gay Male Athletes suffers emptiness and despair because he derives only fleeting pleasures from the drinking, smoking and anonymous sex in which he indulges. Jocks author Dan Woog knows who is to blame for the man's unhappiness: a woman. She forced the young man to frequent places where gay men drink, smoke and try to find partners for anonymous sex. This wicked manipulator of innocents had an accomplice, "another female who also sucked him into the gay bar scene." Blaming women for what men do is as ancient as Eve and as recent as Yoko, but being time-honored does not make the practice honorable. Woog initially appears to know better, until early in his book when he characterizes women as wielders of sinister powers to lead men astray and paints all gay bars as dens of iniquity so powerful that no one can resist their evil allure. Unjustly impugning women would scar any book, but it harms this one severely because it contradicts Woog's intent. He proclaims "these stories, after all, are about debunking stereotypes." Well, some stereotypes. Woog chooses to bolster others, including one he recognizes: "One of the enduring myths about homosexuality is that gay men hate women." Even more galling, it is women who gave to almost every one of the dozens of gay men Woog describes their first support, their earliest and perhaps most important assurances that their attraction to men will not -- or at least should not -- condemn them to being scorned by friends and family. The perfunctory acknowledgements of these women and their invaluable contributions are not enough to balance Woog's off-handed condemnation of nefarious females who drag men to their spiritual dooms. The sting of encountering such ugliness early in the book (p. 29) lingers as the reader turns each page hoping not to encounter anything similar. Unfortunately, one does encounter other unpleasant and unsupportable generalizations. For instance, Woog suggests that having gay men in locker rooms and other sports settings "terrif[ies] straight males who are not secure in their sexuality (in other words, most of them)." He does not explain how he knows what insecurities plague at least 51% of heterosexual men. Nor does Woog explain why it is relevant in a passing reference to The Washington Times to identify it as "the Moonie-owned Washington Times." There may be reasons to be suspicious of The Unification Church and its founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, but Woog cites none of them, leaving room for the suspicion that the Korean-based religious organization is simply too Asian for his tastes. It gets worse. Woog offers no evidence but asserts, "After all, most people in America don't like Moonies. They don't want their kids coached by them. And they certainly don't want them to grow up to be Moonies." That kind of bigotry is as unfair and ugly now as when it was directed routinely against Roman Catholics or Jews. There are other stereotypes that Woog promotes, apparently inadvertently, in his attack on anti-gay stereotypes. But given the ugliness of some of his observations, I was relieved when the author confined himself to such relatively harmless generalizations as "suburban boys and girls are too polite." These statements, only a small part of Jocks, mar a book that has much to recommend it. Woog's subjects, several gay men who have faced anti-gay sentiments that pervade much of the worlds of amateur and professional sports, speak movingly and with insight about how they have tried to balance being gay with being athletic. Their accounts can be informative and even inspiring, when Woog lets them. Among these is that of a college soccer player who has often attempted suicide because "no one knows how much pain and suffering a gay male athlete goes through. I've spent hours crying in my room because people won't accept me for who I am." Yet this wounded man aspires to be a psychologist so that he can help other gay men and lesbians transcend the difficulties they endure as they find their place in a society that can punish them for being honest about their sexual orientations. Many of the men Woog profiles have found it easier to achieve that honesty than they'd feared. Their teammates have supported them, their friends have stood by them and their families have affirmed their love. These men understand how recent and still rare this kind of acceptance is and they express their appreciation eloquently. Many commit themselves to ensuring the way is easier for future generations of people who are not heterosexual. Woog's clumsy presentation challenges the reader to find the wheat among the chaff that fills much of the book's 231 pages. Most of his articles appear to be the result of single interviews. Freqently it seems that someone Woog is quoting would have spoken even more eloquently if Woog had come back for other conversations after they'd warmed to the idea of being interviewed. Often a subject speaks for others with whom Woog should have spoken as well. When a coach asserts that because of his efforts to promote tolerance of homosexuality "several coaches had their eyes opened," it would be better to hear that assessment from one of the other coaches whose eyes are alleged to have been shut. Or a young man says that his parents' activism on behalf of gay causes has been "good for them" and one wonders why Woog doesn't allow the parents to say that for themselves. Woog starts his first article with a brief but harrowing description of how a high school runner is beaten so badly that for the rest of his life he will have a steel plate holding his jaw together. The attackers are other athletes who assume that because the runner's coach is gay, the runner must be gay as well and that demands serious punishment. While it would be interesting to know how the victim feels about the assault against him and the reasons for it, Woog does not present even a single word from him. On the rare occasions when Woog does talk with people besides his primary subjects, he loses focus when he tries to incorporate their observations. For instance, the book starts with an account of a high school cross-country coach who acknowledges his homosexuality. Woog follows his discussions with the coach with remarks from some of the heterosexual student runners who supported their coach in the face of sometimes violent opposition, but he doesn't return to the coach. The reader is left wondering how he feels about what these students have said about him. Woog's conclusion ("By standing tall and strong -- without moving an inch -- these runners and their coach have won the biggest race of their lives") would be more persuasive if it had been offered by the coach or one of his students. Reporting is not efficient. It can take repeated interviews with several sources before one of them offers an invaluable insight or an eloquent phrase that captures what would otherwise take paragraphs to explain. Reporters often have to toss aside most of what they've written or recorded and save only the best bits that convey their subjects' essences. Woog apparently was unwilling to do this extra work, or at least unaware that it was required. Woog's subjects and his readers deserve better, both in this and in his similarly flawed follow-up volume.

  • Audrey
    2019-02-18 23:00

    At first glance, this book looks just like any number of anthologies of gay sports-oriented stories. The cover features the now obligatory half-dressed, well-toned guy wearing the remnants of a football uniform, and let’s face it, “Jocks!” would make a great title for one of those Cleis Press collections of erotic shorts.The key difference here, however, is that all the stories in this collection are true, mini-biographies of gay, male athletes and their experiences reconciling the homophobic machismo of sports with their personal identities as gay men. The results are anything but erotic. But they are eye-opening.The eighteen case studies profiled here run a wide gamut of situations; in addition to athletes, the stories feature gay coaches, gay referees, straight allies, parents and lovers. Football, soccer, hockey, wrestling, swimming, running, lacrosse, tennis and baseball all put in an appearance, as does the author–his is one of the stories, and definitely in my top five favorites in the book.There is a definite bias towards stories focused on sports in American schools, elementary through college-aged, and when I got to the end of the book I realized why: an included appendix features questions and activities for teachers and coaches designed to promote dialogs about gay students in sports and ways to prevent bullying and encourage a more inclusive and tolerant atmosphere in school locker rooms.Here’s where I come clean about all this: I bought this book on ebay as part of a birthday lot I chose for myself, and I went solely on the strength of the cover (half-naked men ftw) and the title, expecting titillation. This is because I am completely bent for LGBT stories about athletes. Dirty old woman or not, that is one of my ticklespots, but in this case my impulse purchase led toThe stories are a mixed bag, and were weighted a little heavily in favor of the pollyannas. A surprising number of gay male athletes had accepting parents and functional support systems that let them choose when and how (or if) to come out, and it’s hard for me to judge whether that’s an accurate representation of all gay male athletes in America or not.There are certainly disheartening stories–the suicidal runner, the Mormons whose families and temples disowned them, the South Boston hockey player whose mom won’t let him come out to the whole family “for fear of retribution”–but the overall tone is one of adjustment and coping. These are very much sports stories whose heroes come to a crossroads of some kind and are forced into deciding their next move, and whether to continue pursuing involvement with their chosen sports.And some don’t. Some, like the NHL hockey referee who quit after only a year in the league, succumb to the fear of being outed. Hockey and football both come off as incredibly difficult to navigate as a gay man, mainly because of the pervasive homophobia and pro-violence that are presented as endemic to both sports. Both the referee and the South Boston hockey player ultimately decide that in order to be happy, they have to leave the sport they love. They are not alone in their decisions, but it is interesting to see the reasoning behind the decision, and in a few cases, what happens next. More than a few athletes simply switch sports, finding the fulfillment of athletic competition in a more accepting sport or venue.There are a few really great stories in this collection–the two hockey ones, as noted, and the suicidal runner, the boyfriend of the deeply closeted basketball player are among the others–but by far my favorite was “The Football Player and his Father”.Mike Henigan coached high school football in tony Orange County, California, and that included coaching one of his sons, Patrick, who goes on to turn down an appointment to West Point to play football for Yale. Then, after two years, he stopped. Patrick’s explanation why is a telling indictment not of sports but of the construction of masculine identity as a whole:“There are a lot of bad things about athletics everywhere,” Patrick says. “Starting with Little League or Pop Warner, there’s this concept that to be a man is to be an athlete, to be an athlete is to be strong, and to be strong you have to have a certain attitude.” …Still, he played the jock role; he walked the walk and talked the talk of a stud.When Patrick eventually cracks and comes out at a family reunion, his father Mike, the football coach, is refreshingly open about his response: “‘Despite being a health teacher, I fell into the stereotype that all gays will die of AIDS,’ Mike says, ‘Where [my wife:] was really worried that [Patrick's:] siblings might not accept him, I worried he might be destroyed.’”But Mike talks about what it took to get him past his knee-jerk response to a place where he could instead become an outspoken ally and crusader for LGBT tolerance in schools and sports, setting off a firestorm of controversy in his conservative Southern California community. It’s a powerful essay on the construction of the “jock identity” in America, and the repercussions of the gulf between that identity and those of gay men.The collection is certainly not without its flaws. The beginning few stories are slow, and could have benefited from being redistributed in the ordering. Woog has a tendency to want to overexplain his subjects and What It All Means for society, as befits what is essentially a textbook for sports coaches and teachers. But those flaws don’t diminish the fascinating quality of the essays, that these men are individual stories of one segment of America, and one whose tale is very rarely told but should have more widespread attention.

  • Ashley
    2019-02-20 04:14

    Well I didn't much care for this book, but it all for the wrong reasons....I think.....for you see my x-boyfriend is one of the athletes in Dan Woog's book & as a result, it was more like an affirming slap in the face. I read this in a semi-desperate attempt to convince myself that what I was living through was real. I think if I was not so personally tied to the book I could have enjoyed it did help me appreciate the level of strength it took him to tell me so I'll certainly read this one again....just not tomorrow.

  • Jason Hawke
    2019-03-17 21:15

    some stories are better than others but it's interesting enough I've reread it several times