chapter  8
Catching crabs: Bodies, emotions and gay identities in mainstream competitive rowing
ByGARETH OWEN
Pages 16

We should not ignore that the Twickenham regatta had a moment of its own, when the umpire starting the heats of the Delta RC [gay rowing club] v Thames Tradesmen in the men’s veteran coxless four, announced:

‘I will not start this race till you are both straight.’ After a quick conference amongst the Delta crew, they decided to ignore

the umpire and row anyway. Various spectators were wondering why the rest of the Delta boys col-

lapsed in laughter. (Tideway Slug: Jan-June 2001)

This extract from the Tideway Slug,1 derives its humour from the sometimes ironic position of gay men within the compulsory heterosexual world of mainstream competitive sport. The scene also suggests that visible gay bodies have the potential to undermine heteronormativity; but the image of a ‘quick conference’ before deciding to row, also hints at the tensions and contradictions of performing ‘out’ gay masculinities in mainstream competitive sport.