‘The Lavender Locker Room’ by Patricia Nell Warren
Author: Alan Chin
July 28, 2010
This wonderful book is a collection of nineteen essays highlighting gay pioneers in athletics. Originally written for Outsports.com, this book has bound together a series of highly entertaining and fascinating studies. Patricia Nell Warren spent four years unearthing these tales, and her sense of history and attention to detail is inspiring. She covers a wide variety of sports figures: tennis stars, football players, swimmers, track and field legends, boxers, golfers, balloonists, jockeys, baseball stars, and aviation pioneers. Her span is as wide as it is deep.
Warrens’s writing is vivid, and her unique perspective make these stories come to life. She captures the excitement, setbacks and the importance of these athlete’s achievements, both on and off the playing field.
The essays are grouped by time period – pre-modern times, early 20th Century, the Great Depression to the Cold War, the fifties and Sixties, and finally, the cusp of Stonewall. In each section, the author writes with grace, wit and tremendous insight.
Being an avid tennis player, I most enjoyed the essay about tennis legend Bill Tilden. But I have to say I enjoyed them all. I found the piece about Amelia Earhart particularly absorbing, also the stories about Gay Rodeo, NFL running back David Kopay, and downhill skier Erik Schinegger. But those of course only scratch the surface of all the rich gay history within this book.
If you like sports — no matter if you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or whatever — do yourself a favor and read The Lavender Locker Room.