FOR MOST GAY MEN of a certain age (and doubtless many lesbians), reading Patricia Nell Warren’s The Front Runner was a rite of passage on our way to a new understanding of what it could mean to be gay. While homosexuality had always been associated with the arts, few among us in the mid-1970’s could imagine any association of our sexuality with the world of competitive sports. Many of us looked back on high school gym class as hours of ostracism and misery, and the locker room as the locus of all our anxieties about a growing attraction to other boys. An air of effeteness still clung to homosexuality; the manly rough-and-tumble of sports was something we were assumed and expected not to pursue (though the sweaty players themselves were another matter!).