When passion calls you to the water

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When passion calls you to the water
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Some people think sex is the only passion GLBT people have. But passion comes from many things, this writer has three: reading and collecting books (much to the chagrin of my husband), politics (can't wait for 2012 presidential campaign year), and rowing.

Since I don't write book reviews and politics for most people is, well, you know... Most people, gay or straight, would rather take it up-the-bum than talk about politics (Even some tops I know). So I guess that leaves rowing.

"I would say 40 percent," said Brian Todd, 41, of Studio City, CA and Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Rowing Federation (GLRF), when asked online how many gay men he thought were on any given crew team. On Real Jock, a free gay website, a comment was made by one rower, ROWING_ANT, of the U.K.: "I have never come across another gay rower" in his country.

You'd think this guy in a country that started the Gaydar website would have better 'gaydar'.

One man, NYCAthlete, responded to ROWING_ANT: "Gay rowers exist in the US and NYC... having rowed in college, I know a good handful..." - Did he write this? - "...I rowed with that are gay. Of course, in college as rowers none of us were gay...apparently rowers aren't gay until after college."

GLRF has 1,159 members worldwide according to its website. "Canada is the third largest country, by membership, in the GLRF," said Todd, or 78 members nationwide. He added that in the West Region of Canada – Alberta, B.C. and Yukon Territory - there are 28 members.

There used to be two men's rowing teams in Vancouver. One was called Fantastic Fours and the other Great Eight. These gay men's crew teams were based out of the Vancouver Rowing Club (VRC), the English-styled rowing club located on the shores of Coal Harbour in Stanley Park.

"VRC was very supportive of the squad that went to the 2006 Games," wrote Todd. He was referring to the men's team representing Vancouver at the first ever Outgames held in Montreal. They "were allowed to host a fundraising party at the club and it was very successful."

One can imagine that hasn't always been the case. Even now one can pick up subtle signs of discomfort: a glance, side comment, or a homophobic joke. None of this was felt or seen in the few visits made to the VRC. Especially after revealing I have a partner and later introducing him as my husband when he showed up to watch me take my on-the-water rowing test in 2007.

"That same question comes up all the time to me at our booths we host at straight regattas," said Todd, after being asked why there is a need for gay or lesbian rowing teams.

"Having a sense of community, a shared community is important to people at any level, in rowing there is a fair amount of tolerance but less acceptance," continued Todd in a perceptive take on other people's attitude towards gays and lesbians. "Being able to relax and share a commonality, be it desire, problems, issues and news without a moment's hesitation of being judged is the biggest reason why gay and lesbian people enjoy rowing together."

Todd had tears in his eyes and a surprised reaction at 2009's Copenhagen Outgames after seeing the Women's Space. The space was made available for female athletes from around the world to gather and meet one another. "You would not believe how much (these) women hungered for their own area," he added.

Homoerotic or sex-related words,
phrases in rowing
Sourcse: Member's rowing forum,
realjock.com; Wikipedia

Bury the blade
Cox or coxless
Cox box
Crab or catch a crab
Firm up
Hands in and hands on
Hard finishes
Hold it hard
Inside grip
Inside hand
Lay hold
Stroke or stroke rate
Waist, ready, up

Todd was polite in addressing why there wasn't rowing at the 2011 North America Outgames. He said it was partly due to "politics". According to the Boston Bee, a community news page on GLRF's website, there was a two-day regatta preceding the July 24 to 31

Outgames in the Deas/Delta area, south of Vancouver. While it was not a gay and lesbian regatta, "Canadians have traditionally been very supportive of gay and lesbian sports affiliations" said the article. GLRF encouraged gay and lesbian rowers to participate. It's unknown if any competed.

"I think Pacific Northwest people tend to not see the need for gay rowing events or a gay rowing community since they tend to be more openly accepted in their current clubs, " said Todd.

In other parts of the world there are gay rowing regattas. Like the Stonewall Regatta, now in its 18th year and sponsored by the oldest gay and lesbian rowing club, DC Strokes Rowing Club of Washington, D.C., which is 20 years old; the 2011 Miami Rowing Festival last February where GLRF was a co-sponsor with the Miami Beach Rowing Club; and Tournoi de Paris Regate in France last May.

Writer Scott Larsen is hoping to 'hit-the-water' this month at one of the area's rowing clubs. He is still on the lookout for another gay rower for a two-man shell.

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