Gay ruggers the Sydney Convicts are no strangers to success, a good skirmish, or the pages of Sydney Star Observer. In June they claimed the title of world’s greatest gay rugby team.
The Sydney Convicts won the 2006 grand final of the World Cup of gay rugby, the Bingham Cup, beating two-time defending champions the San Francisco Fog.
Their story again graces Sydney Star Observer this week because of the release of United 93, and the approaching fifth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.
The Bingham Cup is held every two years in memory of San Francisco Fog rugby player Mark Bingham (team nickname Bear Trap), who was on board United Airlines flight 93, the fourth plane to be hijacked on September 11, that eventually crashed in Pennsylvania.
Writer-director-producer Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy) has taken on the task of re-creating the events that took place on United 93, proposing that the 40 people on board the flight were the first people to inhabit the post 9/11 world.
In the five years preceding this movie, they have been heralded as citizen soldiers who gave their own lives to save thousands of others.
The film does not directly acknowledge Mark Bingham’s sexuality but he has already been memorialised as a gay hero. On top of the Bingham Cup, he was posthumously awarded US national gay and lesbian magazine The Advocate‘s 2001 Person of the Year.
Melissa Etheridge even wrote a song Tuesday Morning in his memory that starts, Loved his mom and he loved his dad/ Loved his home and he loved his man.
Families of all the victims provided detailed background about their loved ones for the film, down to how they got to the airport and what they were wearing.
Bingham was the last person to board the United 93 flight. The strapping, 6’4 rugger bugger was running late for his flight home to San Francisco and his New Jersey boyfriend had to drive fast to get him to the airport.
In many ways it’s a shame his sexuality is not a little more visible in the film. Bingham wrote an email to his rugby team a few weeks before his death: Gay men weren’t always wallflowers waiting on the sideline. We have the opportunity to let these other athletes know that gay men were around all along.
As Melissa tells it: Even though he could not marry/ Or teach your children in our schools/ Because who he wants to love/ Is breaking your God’s rules/ He stood up on a Tuesday Morning/ In the terror he was brave.
Your inalienable rights/ Some might choose to deny him/ Even though he gave his life.