Stirred but NOT Shaken
by Frederick Dever
Co-President IGLA / DCAC member
The mission of International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (”IGLA”) is to promote participation in aquatic sports among LGBT individuals. There are countless stories of IGLA Members who have been “saved” by swimming and participating on inclusive LGBT-friendly swim, water polo, synchro and diving teams. Now, IGLA and its member teams may be more important than ever, leading the charge for diversity, inclusion, and excellence in aquatics. Hatred and exclusion are not part of our values.
Swimmer Magazine is the “Official Magazine of U.S. Masters,” and IGLA is a part U.S. Masters Swimming in the United States. In the January-February 2011 issue Swimmer Magazine published an unfortunate and hurtful letter to the editor, ”Shaken and Stirred” by Glenn Welsford, Columbia Masters, South Carolina. The letter characterizes homosexuality as something shameful that destroys lives and is in response to an article printed in the September-October issue of Swimmer Magazine. The referenced article embraced the diversity of two gay swimmers (one white, and one black) who were recently profiled. [One was a review of Odd Man Out, which we wrote about HERE]
IGLA members should be proud that together we continue to uphold the values and mission of our organization. The outpouring of strong support for who we are as gay aquatic athletes and our intolerance for bigotry is being heard loud and clear, thanks to the number of well crafted letters and phone calls to USMS and Swimmer Magazine in response to one man’s homophobia.
It is important to note that there has also been significant support for diversity in swimming. This is noted in a positive letter to the editor that was printed just below the hate mail. Having said this, IGLA believes it is important to distinguish between what falls within the right of free-speech, encouraging discourse and opposing opinions, and what is plain hate, meant to damage and cause harm.
Swimmer Magazine should rethink letters that offer no further discussion about the topics at hand. IGLA believes that diversity makes swimming strong. Communities are built by inclusion and appreciation for all members of the community. Making Swimmer Magazine a forum to vent one’s prejudicial beliefs or distaste for any member of US Masters Swimming is just plain wrong and destructive.
Regardless of whether we get an apology from the Laura Hamel USMS Editor in Chief or from Rob Butcher, Executive Director, our voices will be herd through our continued participation with IGLA and the sports we all love.
IGLA and friends of IGLA still have an important mission that continues to be rock solid. We will continue to be proud of who we are and how we are an important part of the USMS Swimming family.
We may be “Stirred” by this unfortunate letter in our Swimming Magazine but IGLA is not “Shaken”.