Friday, 23 September 2016

Out Of Their Trees : Shared Genes For Jeans Day


There are two commemorative days today and I didn’t know which to celebrate with an article. Should it be Bi Visibility Day? Or Jeans for Genes Day? In the end I decided to celebrate both by writing about the ancestry of bisexual model Cara Delevingne and her shared genes with Michelle Dumaresq.

Jeans for Genes Day was created to raise awareness and funds for research into genetic conditions in children. Cara Delevingne has spoken of her own struggles with psoriasis, a skin condition which has some genetic component and effects many youngsters.

Cara has a varied ancestry, quite a lot of it from privileged backgrounds. This ranges from the British aristocracy to working class entrepreneurs who made a fortune manufacturing soap. But today I want to concentrate on one specific line of descent because it links to my “Queer Achievement” article on Michelle Dumaresq.

Cara Delevingne and Michelle Dumaresq are 7th-cousins. Both descend from John Dumaresq (1732-1814) of Jersey in the Channel Islands. In the heraldic article on Michelle I gave an illustration of her family coat of arms which were created by the marriage of John Dumaresq to Rachel Bandinel. Below is a family tree showing how Cara and Michelle are both descended from John.

Today I though I’d look at the two people in red on the family tree. Lt.-Col. Henry Dumaresq and his cousin Lt. Perry Dumaresq laid the foundations of the family which still live in Australia and Canada respectively.

Henry Dumaresq (1792-1838) was a highly respected soldier. He fought in many battles, including the Battle of Waterloo where he was shot by a musket ball which became permanently lodged in his lung. Undaunted he carried on with his order to pass a message personally to the Duke of Wellington, whereupon he collapsed. Two years later, at the age of 25, he reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

On leaving active service Henry went to New South Wales, Australia, as private secretary to his brother-in-law Lt.-Gen. Ralph Darling who had been appointed governor. Darling was an efficient governor but unpopular. He was accused of nepotism and Henry Dumaresq suffered attacks in the press because of his family connection. One article led to Henry fighting a pistol duel with the newspaper’s editor. In 1829 Henry sold his military commission and settled permanently in Australia. He owned a large estate and bred race horses. His health, however, was never great due to the musket ball in his lung. This was to be the cause of his death at the age of 45.

Henry Dumaresq’s cousin, Michelle’s ancestor, was a naval officer, Lt. Perry Dumaresq (1788-1839). While his cousin was fighting in the Battle of Waterloo Perry was stationed in what is now Canada patrolling the east coast of North America on the look-out for ships carrying supplies and money destined for the US government, who were at war with the UK at that time. After the war his naval background helped him to get a job in the customs office of Nova Scotia, a post previously held by his father which also helped.

Perry was ambitious and sought civic office. He continued to service in the customs office, but twice he persuaded the colonial government to divide an existing county into two and he took up a senior judicial posts in the new counties each time. By the second time, though, he was becoming ill and he died two years later at the age of 51.

Both Henry and Perry Dumaresq served their communities in senior positions. Both helped to establish their family’s connections in the countries in which they settled, and their descendants continued to serve their communities with distinction. Michelle Dumaresq’s ancestors continued Perry’s service right down to her own father who was a member of the Cariboo Regional District council. Cara Delevingne’s ancestors continued Henry Dumaresq’s military service in Australia and married into influential British political dynasties right down to today – through the Sheffield family she shares a set of great-grandparents with Samantha Cameron, wife of the ex-UK Prime Minister.

Cara Delevingne and Michelle Dumaresq carry on the service to the community begun by their ancestral cousins and both continue to speak on various causes. As well as her support of psoriasis sufferers Cara has developed a range of sweaters for Girl Up, a charity which supports the health and education of girls in developing countries. Michelle campaigns for inclusion of transgendered people in sport.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Olympic Alphabet : Z is for ... (Part 2)

Z – LAST, BUT NOT LEAST (Part 2)

Now that we’ve got all the background information out of the way let’s turn to the Olympians themselves.

There’s not enough space to detail the performance of individual athletes because there were so many. However, it isn’t possible NOT to mention Team Lgbt’s first Olympic champion of Rio 2016 as it was the same person who provided Brazil with their first gold medal of the games. Rafaela Silva won her judo gold on August 10th and opened up to the media on her same-sex relationship.

In the following analysis of the medals I’ve included all of the 57 known out lgbt Olympians, plus 2 who did not wish to be identified.

Of those 59 athletes 26 won medals. There were no multi-medal-winners this time round. Here they are listed by sport:

EVENT
 
NATION
TEAM/ATHLETE
Women’s athletics 800m
G
South Africa
Caster Semenya
Women’s javelin
S
South Africa
Sunette Viljoen
Women’s basketball
G
USA
Seimone Augustus
Elena Delle Donne
Brittney Griner
Angel McCoughtrey
Women’s flyweight boxing
G
GB
Nicola Adams
Men’s 10m synchro diving
B
GB
Tom Daley
Equestrian team dressage
S
GB
Carl Hester
Spencer Wilton
Women’s football
S
Sweden
Lisa Dahlkvist
Nilla Fischer
Hedwig Lindahl
Caroline Seger
B
Canada
Stephanie Labbé
Marie-Eva Nault
(one player not out publicly)
Women’s handball
S
France
Alexandre Lacrabère
Women’s hockey
G
GB
Helen Richardson-Walsh
Kate Richardson-Walsh
Susannah Townsend
S
Netherlands
Carlien Dirkse van der Heuvel
Maartje Paumen
Women’s -57kg judo
G
Brazil
Rafaela Silva
Women rugby 7s
B
Canada
Jen Kish
Women’s 10km swim
S
Italy
Rachel Bruni

But how did Team Lgbt do overall? Where would they have finished in the medal table if they were a “nation”? What I’ve done to provide a more accurate result is take all the individual lgbt medals out of the national table. For team medals where both straight and lgbt athletes competed I’ve simply duplicated the medal – one counted for the national team, and one for Team Lgbt.

From the table above we can see that Team Lgbt won 5 gold medals, 6 silvers and 3 bronzes. That would place them in 17th position behind Jamaica, higher than New Zealand and Canada. There was no real significant changes to the official medal table as a result. Italy and Australia swapped 9th and 10th positions, and Brazil moved down from 13 to 15. Both of these movements were caused by the removal of individual medals being transferred to Team Lgbt. The biggest move was South Africa. Because of the transfer of Caster Semenya’s gold medal they moved down from 30 to 40. The other nations retained their positions.
When I was adding the Rio medals to my own database it struck me how much it was like those Top Ten Singles chart shows. My tables include all the top 8 placings for which the International Olympic Committee award medals and diplomas for each event, and that meant there was more movement within the table. If I only included the medals there would be 121 Olympians, but with the top 8 places there are another 51 who could be included.

Remember, every time a medal is won everyone else on the list below it moves down one place. That means past Olympians will always go down, not up the chart. Even medal winners from Rio can move down if more athletes win higher positions (as is the case with Tom Daley). So, if you’ve got some suitable pop-picking music to play in the background, here’s what’s happening in the new chart!

“Hello pop-pickers and here’s the new chart for Rio 2016. There’s 18 athletes moving up the chart and 14 moving down, with 16 new entries. Highest climber is Sweden’s Lisa Dahlkvist whose silver medal in football takes her from equal 153rd straight up to number 86. Moving up into the Top Ten is Dutch hockey player Maartje Paumen whose silver medal puts her in equal 9th spot with 2 gold and 1 silver. Moving down one place below Maartje is her coach Alyson Annan. Just outside the Top Ten Nicola Adams punches her way up to equal 12th. Brazil’s judoka Rafaela Silva and GB’s hockey player Susanna Townsend go straight in as highest new entries at number 44 with one gold medal each. They are joined by US women’s basketball players Elena Delle Donne and Britney Griner, while their team-mates Seimone Augustus and Angel McCoughtrey double up on their previous gold and move up to equal 12th with Nicola Adams. Moving down are Dutch dressage riders and partners Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud, both pushed down by the team silver won by GB’s Carl Hester who now moves up 2 places to 28. Tom Daley makes the biggest drop. His bronze medal wasn’t enough to stop him from splashing down 30 places to number 107. With no-one outside the Top Ten retaining their spot in the chart it looks like Aussie swimmer Ian Thorpe, who came out in 2013 and went straight in at Number 1 with his 9 medals, won’t be toppled for a very long time yet.”

Of course, the full movement of positions is very complex but it doesn’t look as though anyone will come near the top five for a very long time. Just out of interest, here is the new all-time Top Ten medal chart with the new entry in joint 9th place –

NAME
NATION
SPORT
G
S
B
Ian Thorpe
Australia
swimming
5
3
1
Ireen Wüst
Netherlands
speed skating
4
3
1
Greg Louganis
USA
diving
4
1
 
Jayna Hefford
Canada
ice hockey
4
1
 
Marnie McBean
Canada
rowing
3
1
 
Charline Labonté
Canada
ice hockey
3
 
 
Sheryl Swoopes
USA
basketball
3
 
 
Karin Büttner-Janz
East Germany
gymnastics
2
3
1
Mildred Didrikson Zaharias
USA
athletics
2
1
 
Maartje Paumen
Netherlands
field hockey
2
1
 

 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Olympic Alphabet : Z is for ...

Z - LAST, BUT NOT LEAST (Part 1)
 
Now that the dust I settling on the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games we review what has been record-breaking events and, perhaps, the turning point in lgbt acceptance in sport. It will be interesting to look back at this review in four years time to see how much has changed.
 
Today I’m just going to concentrate on the Olympics. The Paralympics will feature in a separate article in November as part of my Disability Awareness Month. There has been a massive amount of information to digest and it will be necessary to split this article into two. Part 2 will be tomorrow.
 
Before the games began there was the torch relay of course. The Rio torch was lit on 21st April at the ancient site of Olympia. From there the torch was taken to Athens by a relay of Greek athletes and arrived at the handover ceremony a week later.  One of the last torch bearers was gay gymnast Ioannes Melissanidis. This year is the 80th anniversary of the torch relay and I wrote more about it on the anniversary day.
 
It has been difficult locating full details of all the torch bearers who relayed it round Brazil However, there are two who provided significant moments.  Brazil is known for its high transgender visibility (and, unfortunately, its high transgender murder rate). Two people became the first known transgender torch bearers. The first was teenager Bianka Lins on 10th May running through Curvelo, and the second was Brazilian cartoonist Laerte Coutinho on 24th Jul running through São Paolo.
 
The opening ceremony held little lgbt presence. I wrote in my article on the letter “W” that supermodel Gisele Bundchen’s dress and several team uniforms were created by gay designers. But the transgender presence was still visible. The organising committee made much of the presence of another Brazilian model, the transgender model Lea T. She was one of the tricyclists who led the teams into the stadium. Lea had the honour of leading in her home team (I only know of one other lgbt person who led the home team into the stadium – Wade Bennett at the Sydney 2000 opening ceremony).
 
The media heralded Lea T as the first transgender participant in an opening ceremony. She may be the first in a leading role, but there may be many others who acted as volunteers or performers who are not known to us as the present time. Caitlyn Jenner took part in the Los Angeles 1984 opening ceremony as a bearer of the Olympic flag and substitute cauldron lighter.
 
The closing ceremony had two lgbt flag bearers. GB’s retiring women’s hockey captain Kate Richardson-Walsh carried the Union Jack, and Caster Semenya became the first ever lgbt athlete to carry her national flag at both the opening closing ceremony – opening ceremony at London 2012 and closing ceremony in Rio. Despite the controversy around Caster’s inclusion in women’s competition the decision of the South African Olympic Committee to choose her as the flag bearer sends a clear signal to the world that her nation supports her.

At the beginning of summer there didn’t seem to be any noticeable difference in the way the Olympics welcomed lgbt athletes. The ongoing controversies over gender allocation was threatening to overshadow the efforts of the few known lgbt athlete who had been identified by myself and my friends at Outsports.com, Cyd Zeigler and Jim Buzinski.
 
Between us we produced the first list of out lgbt Rio Olympians on 11th July. Almost immediately we all received emails from other out athletes asking to be put on the list! Two athletes, however, wanted their names removed as they claimed they were not out publicly. It wasn’t long before the original list doubled in length, and by the end of the games there were a record-breaking 57 out lgbt Rio Olympians, double the number at London 2012. A massive 26 open athletes made their debut in Rio. This surely indicates that we are entering a period where lgbt athletes are becoming more open and sport is starting to be more accepting. I’ll deal with the actual medals and results tomorrow.
 
For the first time an effort was made to compile a list of those openly lgbt athletes who competed in Olympic trials and qualifying events who didn’t make the teams. There are some very talented young athletes rising in the world of sport to keep an eye on for Tokyo 2020.
 
Several team sports had lgbt coaches. In hockey former Olympian Alyson Annan-Thate coached the Dutch women’s team to silver. Another former Olympian, Sweden’s Pia Sundhage, also coached the women’s football team to silver. At the previous two Olympics Pia had coached the US women’s team to gold, and her place in Rio was taken by British-born Jill Ellis. Unfortunately, the US team finished in 5th place in Rio.
 
The equestrian events brought a host of past lgbt Olympians to Rio was trainers and officials. George Morris, a legendary figure in the US, has been involved in the Olympics since he entered the US trials in 1956. He first competed at the Rome Olympics in 1960. He acted as dressage Chef d’Equipe (or Assistant Chef) for the US Olympic teams in 5 consecutive games until this year when he switched to Brazil (his partner is Brazilian). At the age of 78 he was the oldest lgbt Olympian working at Rio. His place as US Chef d’Equipe went to another great lgbt dressage Olympian Robert Dover. Chair of the US Eventing selection committee was another former Olympian Robert Costello.
 
Taking a judging position was New Zealand’s Simon Latimer. For the second time he was the youngest of the diving judges. He’s a diver himself, having won gold medals at the Outgames. He was also a judge at the US Olympic diving trials in June. In Rio his judging appointments included the preliminaries and finals of Tom Daley’s event, the 10 meter platform, and the 3 meter springboard preliminaries with Brazil’s openly gay diver Ian Matos. Also in the diving the great Greg Louganis returned as mentor to the US team.
 
Away from the actual sport there was a noticeable lgbt presence on television screens. In the UK the face of the Olympics and Paralympics has become Clair Balding. At both London 2012 and Rio 2016 she graced the screens at lead presenter for the BBC’s Olympic coverage and Channel 4’s Paralympic coverage.
 
The Rio games were not without incidents of homophobia. Even during the women’s football tournament which began several days before the opening ceremony there were reports of homophobic chants coming from the spectators. As the games progressed reports of further chants were fewer.
 
The biggest controversy that emerged was the result of a straight self-styled journalist from “The Daily Beast” who posed as a gay man and used Grindr to gather information on closeted lgbt athletes and publish them. Thankfully the backlash of protest meant that the IOC banned him. Even before this, “The Daily Beast” has never fulfilled my own expectations of a trustworthy or responsible media organisation and I can’t believe it ever will.

But let’s end on a much more happier note. The Rio Olympics provided several public incidents which I don’t think anyone would have dreamt possible. Two lgbt Olympians, Tom Bosworth and Isadora Cerullo, became engaged to their partners in very public manners. Several other same-sex couples were acknowledged – Tom Daley’s fiancé was mentioned and shown in the crowds, and Larissa Franca and her partner appeared in an NBC feature (after previously referring to her partner as her “husband”). But to top that, there have been a few couples in recognised partnerships before at the games, and couples with only one spouse competing, but Team GB’s Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh were the first married couple to compete on the same team.
 
On that happy note I’ll leave you until tomorrow when I’ll be analysing the results of the lgbt Olympians and seeing if any of them have entered the all-time Top Ten LGBT Medal Chart.