Considering a whole day has gone by since these images surfaced all over the (gossipier) side of the blogosphere, this probably already is old news.
Still, in light of the recent attempt by a Spanish journalist to question Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' virility by asking him if he was gay, these images of boxer Oscar De La Hoya wearing make-up, a wig, a full-body fishnet mesh getup and high heels struck a nerve.
The X17 site "exclusive" introduces the images as "Presenting Miss Oscar De La Hoya" and claims "These images will send Oscar De La Hoya's career to the canvas!"
Several people have responded on the X17 page with the usual snickering jokes and outright disgust that is so representative of a culture that is still so uncomfortable with seeing a man dressed as a woman. Others have said that the images are obviously fake and just an instance where De La Hoya's head has been Photoshopped into another man's body.
By this morning the images had made it to national media with the New York Daily News not only reporting on the photos but printing yet another depiction - or, as they call it, "artist's rendering" - of De La Hoya in drag, and, in doing so, fully engaging in the not so hidden homophobic / transphobic subtext of the online dialogue.
In the article Debbie Caplan, a representative from the De La Hoya camp says that the photos are indeed fake: The photos "are Photoshopped. They're not real. His head's too small and it doesn't even look like his body."
Towleroad has additional links to a statement from De La Hoya's lawyer who also says the images are fake and that they are considering legal action against X17.
The Daily News article, on the other hand, says that the photos come from a woman who had a "kinky" relationship with the boxer, who happens to be married (Update: She has changed her story).
As I wrote in March of 2006, De La Hoya is no stranger to attacks on his masculinity in the form of homophobic taunts or allegations from former contenders he has gone on to defeat. And, unlike many in the sport, De La Hoya has always risen above the fray and responded with dignity and honor without resorting to throwing back homophobic taunts of his own.
Whether the photos turn out to be fake or not, at most they show De La Hoya likes to ad spice to his sex life - as so many other people in the United States do (he might also have been dressing up for sport and not necessarily for kinks); he also might have been unfaithful, as so many other people also have as well. Allegedly, the sexual partner in question is a woman which still would make De La Hoya, hm, straight? The reaction actually speaks less about De La Hoya than about those who gleefully think that his career is done with the publication of these possibly fake images (and Latino gossip sites are just as complicit in rejoicing).
The De La Hoya camp certainly seems threatened - if their swift reaction and denials are any indication - and I guess that in boxing this sort of thing can indeed affect someone's career. If I were them, though, I'd look at how De La Hoya has handled himself in the past when he's been called a fag and learn from the way that he has addressed those attacks with humor and honesty.
- Mario Lopez says De La Hoya is getting a kick out of the scandal (EXtra clip here)
- Model changes story: Says that the camera that was supposedly used to take the shots was hers but that she wasn't in control of the camera when the photos were "taken" (New York Daily News, Mon., Sept. 24, 2007)
- Soccer player "outed" in Perú as Argentina hosts gay soccer tournament (Sept. 26, 2007)
- Sports Illustrated Latino is gay-inclusive (July 11, 2007)
- Twenty years later, Don McPherson in Harlem (March 23, 2007)