Cruising for Olivia: Lesbian Celebrity and the Cultural Politics of Coming Out in Sport

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Megan ChawanskyUniversity of Bath

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Jessica Margaret FrancombeUniversity of Bath

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This paper explores issues of sport, sponsorship, and consumption by critically interrogating the mass-mediated “coming out” narratives of professional golfer, Rosie Jones, and professional basketball player, Sheryl Swoopes. Both athletes came out publicly as gay in light of endorsements received by Olivia Cruises and Resorts—a company that serves lesbian travelers—thus marking a significant shift in the relationship between lesbian subjectivity, sport, and sponsorship. A concern with a neoliberal-infused GLBT politics underscores our analysis, and a close reading of these narratives raises complex questions about the corporatization of coming out and the existence of lesbian celebrity in sport.

Chawansky is with Dept. of American Studies, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. Francombe is with the Department of Education, University of Bath, United Kingdom.

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