Cheerleaders Having Lesbian Sex? Now That’s News!

Renee Thomas and Angela Keathley

Now a day into the story, the media has even begun covering the media blitz itself as news. “Panthers’ cheerleader sex scandal creating major buzz”, headlines another San Jose Mercury story, which goes on to report that this cheerleader incident “ranked among the top three most-viewed in Charlotte.com’s nine-year history. On ESPN.com, more people e-mailed it to friends Monday than any other story.

“The Panthers’ Web site, which features photos of its cheerleaders, bent under so many hits that it was shut down.”

St. Petersburg Times headlined their coverage of the event with “Cheerleader case captivates fans worldwide”, reporting that “Even British tabloid reporters called the Tampa Police Department’s public information office, where phones on Monday rang and rang.”

Forget all that boring gay-rights stuff. This is a lesbian story the news media can really get behind!

So what’s the problem? The story is entertaining. It’s news. I’ll admit, I got a good laugh out of reading about it. So why shouldn’t the news outlets have a field day with it?

The problem is, the mainstream media doesn’t cover stories about heterosexual couples getting busted for having sex in a bar bathroom, even though I’d be willing to bet that happens far more often than women secretly (or not so secretly, in this case) hooking up with each other in public bathrooms.

And even if they did cover it, it wouldn’t make the national news. As one Florida AfterEllen.com reader wrote in to say, “I noticed this story first on my local NBC news, and then making headlines on Yahoo….I don’t see any headlines covering all the sordid heterosexual activities in bar bathrooms performed by athletes (or their enthusiastic, scantily-clad supporters). It doesn’t say much for lesbian visibility.”

The problem is, the right wing likes to scare heterosexuals into voting away our rights by portraying gays and lesbians as sex maniacs, and the mainstream media enables them to do that with disproportionate and sensationalized coverage like this.

Of course, the media is covering this story so extensively in part because Americans clearly prefer to read about lesbian cheerleaders more than Texas’s anti-gay marriage amendment. At least, if phones ringing off hooks and websites crashing are any indication.

But this is just another example of the double-standard Americans have when it comes to lesbians.

As Kim Ficera mentioned in her recent column about the media coverage of the Sheryl Swoopes news, “I can’t keep up with the hypocrisy. Do Americans hate lesbians or love lesbians? Lesbians who want to get married, want to adopt, and want equal rights are all bad; but lesbians in lingerie, lesbians in videos, straight women who play lesbians on TV, and now lesbians with basketballs, are all good.”

So are lesbian cheerleaders, apparently–or cheerleaders we want to believe are lesbians, anyway.

As long as they don’t try to get married.