Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock, by Mark Tewksbury. John Wiley & Sons, 262 pages, $24.95 hardcover.
Olympic gold swimmer Tewksbury giggled like a girl, played dress-up with an aunt, and snuck away for forbidden trysts with his sister’s Barbie - the very definition of a nascent fag. But he was well into his 20s before accepting his sexuality, an odyssey depicted with agonized honesty in this heartfelt but pedestrian-prose memoir. Why the delayed coming-out? He was raised in Canada’s most conservative province, Alberta; he was a fiercely competitive athlete in a macho environment; and after his 1992 Barcelona medal triumph, he became a player in the homophobic world of Olympic politics. Discretion was ingrained - until the need for passion in his personal life overwhelmed the straight image projected in his public life. Beyond the coming-out account, Tewksbury’s memoir includes a pointed indictment of the Olympic movement’s hypocrisy around homosexuality. And in something of a payback, the book ends with a bitter and bewildered insider’s account (he spearheaded Montreal’s bid for the 2006 Gay Games) of the shenanigans and petty personality conflicts that led to competing athletic gatherings this July - the “official” Gay Games in Chicago and Outgames in Montreal. His justified bitchiness adds juicy brio to this bio.
I was only caught with Barbie once more. I was taking a bath and in came Dad through the door, so I had a split second to hide Barbie. I shoved her as far under my butt and between my locked legs as possible. My dad sat on the toilet, beer in hand, and decided it was time to have a little heart-to-heart. I was 12. As I listened to him I could feel the bubbles collecting under my legs. I was doing everything in my power not to budge, but in spite of my efforts my legs slipped on the porcelain tub - and up popped Barbie. That time, I escaped a physical beating.
-from Inside Out, by Mark Tewksbury