He is hardly the first gay athlete to compete but he is one of the first to be out while competing
The big news (if you can call it that), since it's hardly a secret that this man is gay?
NBC didn't mention it. Maggie again:
NBC did not mention Mitcham's orientation, nor did they show his family and partner who were in the stands. NBC has made athletes' significant others a part of the coverage in the past, choosing to spotlight track athlete Sanya Richards' fiancee, a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and Kerri Walsh's wedding ring debacle.
The military seems ready to allow gays to serve openly (I remember seeing at about 75% support from current troops for this but I don't have any stats; there was something on Ed Brayton's blog about this a few months ago), the ballot measure to overturn their state's supreme court ruling that legalized gay marriage seems likely to fail, several tv shows and movies have had openly gay characters (including NBC's Will and Grace -- and the network decides not to mention that this guy is gay.
Furthermore, sports is one area in which gays tend to be closeted (perhaps more so anywhere except among the republicans) -- recently an ex-NBA player came out. From his story it sounds like gays are unlikely to come out anytime soon in basketball or football (consider the homophobic songs of Allen Iverson from a few years ago as one reason why).
Mitcham tries not to make a big deal out of being gay and I have no problem with that. But not mentioning that he is gay and that his partner and family are there (he did win the gold medal, after all) makes a deal out of it. They certainly didn't have to dwell on it -- they could have panned over to his family, including his partner, use the word 'partner' or some other time when introducing him, and then not talked about it (I wonder how many people would even have noticed?).
I guess that puts an end to the "theory" that the media is (are?) actively endorsing homosexuality and encouraging people to be gay.