Will a male player in team sports come out like boxer Orlando Cruz? ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz says we keep asking the wrong question, and Pat Griffin is concerned that this question itself has so dominated the LGBT sports landscape that we have rendered the plight of lesbian athletes invisible. In Griffin’s incredibly insightful post she also cites Hudson Taylor’s column on why we can’t tackle homophobia without tackling sexism in sport at the same time. In other posts, an ESPN poll suggests that most athletes favors same-sex marriage, and Simone Augustus speaks personally to the matter.
“The Incredible Omnipresent But Invisible Lesbian Athlete”, Pat Griffin’s LGBT Sports Blog
“As I celebrate the growth of what I call an LGBT sports equality movement, I have had a nagging concern that has blossomed now into a full blown red flag of frustration. It is this: Concern about homophobia in women’s sports has somehow taken a seat on the bench as all the starters in this game focus on men’s sports. Now, don’t get me wrong, the silence about gay men in sport has been deafening for far too long and I am thrilled that barriers for gay men coming out in sport seem to crumbling at all levels..I love hearing about gay high school and college male athletes coming out. I love it that the Toronto Blue Jays recently suspended Yunel Escobar for painting an anti-gay message in his face black and that his salary for the three days (around $80,000) will be given to two organizations fighting for LGBT inclusion in sport. It’s great that Escobar met with Patrick Burke of You Can Play and openly gay soccer player David Fasto. I am thankful for straight male athlete allies like Hudson Taylor, Patrick Burke, Ben Cohen and all of the male professional athletes who are speaking out. It is all long overdue and absolutely necessary to change men’s sports culture..The problem for me is that somehow with all of the attention focused on men’s sports, homophobia in women’s sports is in danger of being treated as either a non-issue or a less important issue. I’ve noticed for some time that media coverage of “gays in sports” has focused almost entirely on men’s sports. Women’s sports, if mentioned at all, are dismissed in the first couple of paragraphs. The final straw for me was an article on NPR.org this week which was a thoughtful piece generally about homophobia in (men’s) sports with quotes from male athletes. The writers had this to say about homophobia in women’s sports:“Today, (Billie Jean) King is also an advocate for gay rights, but for most of her career, she stayed in the closet. Now, it’s not uncommon for a female pro athlete to come out.”.That’s it. Homophobia in women’s sports? It used to be a problem. No problem, today though. Women’s sports are full of lesbians, don’t you know?” Read more here.
“Rarely, however, do the media or advocates in this space address the complicated nuances of homophobia or flesh out its relationship to other biases, like racism and sexism. Sexism in particular sustains homophobia, and vice versa. The two operate co-dependently to oppress victims of all genders and sexual orientations. With no part of our culture exemplifying this pathological relationship better than sports, it becomes clear that tackling homophobia in sport requires a simultaneous, equally vigorous effort to tackle sexism in sport.
Athletics is a gendered space. Sports value traits traditionally and prejudicially associated with masculinity, like physical strength, prowess, and athleticism. Though these traits are valued across all sports by both genders — from football to horse racing to competitive cheerleading — male and female athletes manage their associations and develop cultures around these traits very differently. Specifically, men’s sports pursue and embrace masculine associations, while women’s sports struggle to curb them. That difference can be largely explained as a reaction to and an attempt to mitigate the wrath of homophobia.” Read more here.
“When’s it going to happen?”
It’s a question you field regularly if you’re an out, gay sportswriter who covers the league nationally, and one I’ve answered the same way for about four years: “Maybe five to 10 years.”
That estimate is a stab in the dark, largely because “when” is the wrong question or, at best, an ancillary one.
A closeted NBA player isn’t thumbing through a wall calendar looking for an appropriate date. More likely, he’s weighing the cost-benefit analysis of coming out. And whatever calculus he’s using, it’s telling him, “Not now.”
So rather than address “when,” the smarter query is, “How do we get there?”
ESPN the Magazine polled a combined 62 athletes anonymously from the NBA, NHL, NFL and Major League Baseball on a host of political and social issues and found 59% of those polled support gay marriage.
The percentages were 92% in favor among NHL players polled; 61% in the NFL; 46% in the NBA and 45% in Major League Baseball. With such a low number of respondents and its randomness, this should not be considered a statistically valid poll. Nonetheless, the numbers are interesting, and overall baseball players in the poll skewed more conservative on most issues. Read more here.
Simone Augustus Speaks Out for Same Sex Marriage (hat tip Cyd Zeigler, Outsports)
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