Tag Archives: Sports

Why Are Queer Female Athletes Years Ahead Of Gay Men When It Comes To Acceptance?

In the wake of another Olympic Games, we can all look back and ask: Weren’t these Olympics gayer than usual?

Well, in a way, they really were! With 50 LGBTQ athletes competing this year, there has been a considerable increase in out athletes participating when comparing with the London Olympics, where only 23 athletes identified as LGBTQ. Of course this staggering increase can be seen as a rise in acceptance as more athletes come out each year.

But, as always, there are two sides to every coin.

The disparity between queer male and female athletes is still visibly high. As UpWorthy mentioned, of the 12 athletes on the US Women’s Basketball Olympic Team, 4 identify as gay.

How about the Men’s Team or even the NBA? 2? Maybe 1? You guessed it, 0 players identify as gay or bisexual. This disparity has little to do with the number of LGBTQ players, but instead with acceptance.

The difference between coming out while playing for the WNBA or the NBA is as night and day; seen even regularly amongst the female athletes. Why is that?

As a lesbian, I have always loved the stereotype “Lesbians are good at sports.”

Not that I am nor most of my queer female friends are, but the fact that there are female all-star athletes such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova (should I include Dana Fairbanks?) sets a precedent that gave rise to such a stereotype. And most of us who have done any sport at a competitive level have come across a couple other queer athletes.

Although I am not saying in any way that coming out as a female athlete is easy, this normalization of LGBTQ women in sports has paved the way to acceptance and the freedom to come out.

But what about the other queer athletes?

How can it be expected for a bisexual or gay man to come out while playing for the NBA if there are no other queer players in the league? On the bright side, after North Carolina passed the known “anti-LGBTQ” law, the league ended up not having its All-Star game in Charlotte as a way not only to protest the law but also for protection of both the athletes and the fans.

The way I see it, it’s just a matter of time before male athletes start to come out, and once the first one does so, an avalanche of players, managers and coaches coming out will soon follow.

We have discussed the Ls, the Gs and the Bs. How about transgender athletes?

Only this year has the Olympic committee lifted its ban on transgender athletes without gender reassignment surgery! There’s still, however, disparity between trans-men and trans-women competing, with the IOC announcing that “Those who transition from female to male are eligible to compete in the male category without restriction,” but for those transitioning from male to female “[t]he declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.” with regular mandatory testing of serum testosterone levels. Although there are still some barriers to overcome, this has already been an enormous step forward in inclusion of transgender athletes in the Olympics.

What can we take from all this? Naturally, as more and more athletes come out, the more acceptance there is not only from fans but also from team mates and possibly sponsors.

As coming out is somewhat normalized in women’s sports, we can clearly see a higher level of acceptance. So let’s keep it that way and keep moving forward! The way towards acceptance is visibility which can definitely be achieved by coming out. Whenever a big athlete comes out there’s usually some sort of backlash whether from fans, sponsors or even team mates. But (and I hate to use this expression) it gets better!

Especially when that Olympic medal finally proves we are just as good (or even better) than the straight athletes.

Tennis Ace Martina Navratilova Predicts An ‘Avalanche’ Of Gay Athletes: “Any Revolution Starts With A Small Step”


Tennis superstar Martina Navratilova recently wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated. In it she says the “watershed” moment for gay people in sport has been reached – and she’s hoping for an avalanche.

Martina Navratilova

Navratilova writes

We’ve come a long way. In the 1980s I knew an NHL coach who was convinced there were no gay hockey players. Ever. Certainly not on his teams. Why? “This is a macho sport,” he said. Remember Reggie White? In the ’90s, the Packers star appeared in a newspaper advertising campaign to persuade gays and lesbians that they could “cease” their homosexuality. The NFL responded with … a lot of silence.

On her own coming out, she adds

When I came out, in 1981, I didn’t have much public support and I know I lost endorsements. But I never had to worry about losing my job. In tennis, there are no bosses, no general managers and no coaches who can keep players from competing. So I was safe in that regard. For team sports athletes, this is not the case.

A homophobic coach at any level — high school, college or pros — could keep a player from playing. Remember Rene Portland, the women’s basketball coach at Penn State? She proudly boasted she would not allow a lesbian on her team. In the past, that kind of homophobia would have had support from the front office. Why come out when — apart from dealing with all the other complications — it could kill your sports career!”

Martina Navratilova

But the game is changing, more and more stars are choosing to come out, from rugby’s Gareth Thomas to football’s Casey Stoney, support from straight and gay allies is helping to pave the way for sporting to be more inclusive.

But the times changed. Boy, did they ever change.

Martina Navratilova Proposes

As Navratilova encourages:

Any revolution starts with a small step. As I see it, this one started with Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and his R-rated (but darn smart and funny) editorial on Deadspin last year. That was a catalyst because it then became clear: Straight players were standing in support of gays in general — and their gay teammates, whoever they might be.

Those gay athletes might have been deeply closeted, but there was unspoken acknowledgement: We know you exist. Kluwe wasn’t shunned or ridiculed for his stance. The tables turned. It was the homophobes who were left standing in the cold, scorned and criticized by fans and the media. How is that for a turnaround in, relatively speaking, a very short time?

noh8 Martina Navratilova

She also highlights basketball star Jason Collins for his coming out and how he has paved the way for future generations in sport.

Navratilova wrote

He is the proverbial game-changer. One of the last bastions of homophobia has been challenged. Collins’ action will save lives. This is no exaggeration: Fully one third of suicides among teenagers occur because of their sexuality.”

In 2013, the Brooklyn Nets player was the first active male athlete to come out. Since retiring, Collins has dedicated much of his time to campaigning on LGBT issues in sport.

Now that Collins has led this watershed moment, I think — and hope — there will be an avalanche. Come out, come out wherever and whoever you are. It is beautiful out here and I guarantee you this: You will never, ever want to go back. You will only wonder why it took so long.”

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LGBT Football Fans Demand More From Premier League Clubs

The UK’s Gay Football Supporters’ Network has told the BBC’s Newsbeat that some Premier League clubs aren’t doing enough for gay fans.

The campaigners say getting adequate help setting up official supporters’ groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fans is too difficult.


GFSN chairman Ed Connell, explained

I definitely think all Premier League clubs should have an official one. There are some clubs that still seem to think; remarkably as it may seem that there isn’t a problem with homophobia within football. They think because there is no homophobic chanting within their grounds there’s no need to actively help an LGBT fan group which is disappointing.”

The organisation, which also runs a national LGBT league, says such groups can help tackle homophobia.

There are hundreds of different supporters’ groups in the UK and they usually give fans from the same club, who live in a certain area, the chance to meet up and socialise.

Few of them are specifically for the LGBT community, though.

In 2013 Arsenal became the first major English club to recognise such a group – the likes of Manchester City and Everton followed.

But Newsbeat has found not all clubs have an LGBT group. Apart from Arsenal, only 5 other Premier League clubs said they did.


Arsenal’s Gay Gooners say the group is important because they work with the club to tackle homophobia and even have a rainbow banner at the Emirates

Steve, a member of the Gay Gooners, said

It’s just a social group for like-minded supporters to meet up and have a few drinks.”

Chris Paouros from Pride in Football said that can be “tricky” for gay supporters. She added:

We know that LGBT fans sometimes don’t go to football because it doesn’t feel like a safe place to be.”

A recent Out on the Fields survey, taken by more than 9,000 people, claims 77% of UK participants had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport.

Chris says it’s important that clubs are “engaged”.

It’s that kind of attitude, which led to an LGBT supporters’ group being set up at Tottenham.


Simon Gray, who helped set up the Proud Lilywhites explained

They (Tottenham) used all their resources to find the supporters, to pull them together. It was really empowering to see the club reach out and try to find people”.

For GFSN chairman Ed Connell, the importance of such groups is a significant tool in educating fans.

To see the Gay Gooners displaying their banner inside the Emirates is the most amazing thing for an LGBT fan who’s been attending football for years but felt like the silent minority within the ground.”

Fallon Fox: The First Openly Transgender Fighter in MMA Describes Abuse She Encounters as ‘Mind-Blowing’ (Video)

Fallon Fox, the first openly transgender mixed martial arts competitor, has spoken about coming out, and about the astonishing hate she encountered.

Now 39, her early career was dogged by fear that someone would out her when she wasn’t ready.

I expected that someone was going to out me; you just can’t go through life with a microscope on your career without someone delving into your past a little bit. But it’s something you really can’t prepare yourself for.”

Fox is a ground-breaking woman in the history of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). She is the first of her kind in a plethora of ways.

Not only did she dutifully serve for four years in the Navy, but her MMA athletic record is undeniably impressive: Fox began her training in 2008, and she currently holds a record of 5-1-0.


Along with her military background and extraordinary MMA success, Fox also happens to be the first openly transgender woman in MMA history.

Though she had gender reassignment surgery just shy of a decade ago, she vividly remembers grappling with her gender identity from the time she was just 5 years old. She frequently dressed up in her sister’s clothes behind closed doors.

Unlike a lot of LGBTQ+ youth, Fox never suffered through the throes of feeling “different” from her peers. Fox assumed all male-bodied young boys felt the same way she did.

As she got older, the displaced feeling of being born into the wrong gendered body never left Fox. After leaving the military in 2000, she began to research what she was coping with. She found a name that described exactly what she was experiencing: gender dysphoria.

So, what exactly is gender dysphoria? To put it in the simple and articulate words of Fox herself:

It’s when your brain sex doesn’t match your physical sex.”

After so many years of alienation and confusion, Fox was finally was able to identify her struggle. She began taking hormones in order to begin the process of transition.

In 2006, after working as a truck driver for years, Fox finally saved enough money to embark on her life-changing transition and underwent gender reassignment surgery.

So, what exactly sparked Fox’s interest in women’s fighting? As soon as she was exposed to MMA fighting, she found herself magnetized to the sport. She was deeply inspired by the strength and the confidence of the incredible women fighters of the MMA.

Fallon Fox 02

Feeling empowered, she set her intention to be one of them.

When Fox first started her career, no one knew her backstory.

Fox says through gender reassignment surgery and hormones, her testosterone levels are lower than any non-transgendered woman.

She fought like every other woman in the industry until the day came when a reporter began to contact her and vehemently press her about the past. Fox knew she had a choice: She could either be outed, or she could out herself.

The fighter wisely chose the latter.

After coming out to SportsIllustrated.com, she found herself in a whirlwind of controversy. Most hurtfully, UFC color commentator and stand-up comedian Joe Rogan repeatedly expressed his vast disapproval of her fighting with other women.

Fallon Fox 01

Fellow fighters claimed she had an alleged “unfair advantage.”

Seemingly overnight she was the target of excessive criticism and bullying from within her own industry, an industry in which she felt she belonged.

Fox was so devastated by the surplus of hateful words bestowed upon her, she found herself suicidal – until she realised she had an important story to tell.

It was one that could help save the lives of so many LGBTQ+ young people who suffer in silence. She now uses her media attention as a platform, a powerful tool that serves as a lifeline to an otherwise voiceless youth.

To those who disapprove of her fighting, Fox strongly feels education is the key to acceptance. She says,

The solution is education on the subject.

All of us, especially LGBT youth who are struggling to find there way in a world that often excludes them, deserves the respect of inclusion on every level.

Martina Navratilova Responds to Homophobic Comments By Ukrainian Tennis Player

Veteran tennis star Martina Navratilova has responded Ukranian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky recent homophobic comments.

He said he would not let his daughter play tennis, as “almost all” female tennis players are gay, after saying that most male professional players are “normal”, meaning straight.

Also read: Ukraine Tennis Star Hits Out Martina Navratilova and Other Lesbian Athletes

Navratoilova took to Twitter to hit back at Stakhovsky, saying she would like to speak to him in the future about his comments.

Did you really say this Sergiy? That you don’t want your daughter to play tennis because she might turn into a lesbian? That is how it is translated. What you said was homophobic. Perhaps we can speak sometime in the future.”

Stacey Allaster, the chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Authority also commented, saying:

It’s sad to think in this day and age there are people who are narrow minded and speak derisively about women based on sexual orientation. It’s a sad reflection of old thinking and I’m proud of all our WTA players who are forward thinking, treat everyone equal and reflect life in the 21st century.”

Ukraine Tennis Star Hits Out Martina Navratilova and Other Lesbian Athletes

In an interview published on Wednesday 8th July, Ukraine tennis player, Sergiy Stakhovsky – who is famous for knocking Roger Federer out of Wimbledon 2013 – said he would not let his daughter play tennis as “almost every other” female tennis player is a lesbian.

Sergiy Stakhovsky

In the interview, he was asked if there was any sexual minorities in tennis, he replied: “I think not.”

According to a translation by letsecondserve.com, he continued

You see, on the ATP we have a normal atmosphere. If there were anything, we’d know about it, because it’s a very closed circle.

Earlier there used to be talk about Gasquet, about Nadal. Even about Federer.

I won’t sacrifice my hand for the whole tour and the new guys, who are just joining, but in the backbone of the top 100 there are definitely no gays.”

He then drew attention to female tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, who said earlier this year that she couldn’t believe no male tennis players are gay.

She can think that in the women’s locker room. She has no clue at all what men’s tennis is. And she’s has nothing to do with it. On the WTA tour, almost every other player is a lesbian.

Can you imagine – half of them!

So I for sure won’t send my daughter to play tennis.”

Also read: Homophobia in Sports: When Poor Sportsmanship Becomes a Problem

Shorty after the outing of her on-court rival Billie Jean King, Navratilova followed King’s suit by revealing her sexual orientation in a column in the Dallas Morning News. Unlike King, Martina came out on her own terms, setting a precedent for many LGBT athletes to come.

Derrick Gordon comes out as first openly gay male NCAA Division I basketball player

GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, and the You Can Play Project, one of North America’s leading organizations dedicated to ensuring equality in sports, has hailed Derrick Gordon’s coming out as the first openly gay male National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I basketball player.

“The tidal wave of support for gay and lesbian athletes continues to surge forward,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Derrick’s bold decision to come out as gay isn’t just significant, it’s inspirational. Today, countless young basketball players, athletes, and men of color have another outstanding role model who reflects the fact that you can be who you want to be no matter who you love.”

“I was deeply moved watching Derrick open his heart to his UMass basketball family.  His desire to invite his teammates into his life speaks to how athletes view their teammates as their family,” said Wade Davis, Executive Director of the You Can Play Project. ” I love being a part of an organization that continues to foster the creation of safe spaces for all individuals to be their authentic selves.”

Derrick Gordon, a guard on the Minutemen basketball team at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, told ESPN today, “I’ve always loved sports but always felt I had to hide and be someone that I’m not. For my whole life I’ve been living my life as a lie,” said Gordon. “I am telling my story so that athletes never feel like they have to hide. You can be true to yourself and play the sport that you love.” Derrick Gordon’s announcement comes just one day after the completion of the NCAA Basketball National Championship.

Earlier this year, 24 year-old University of Missouri football defensive end and NFL prospect Michael Sam attracted national news headlines following his announcement that he is gay. Also this year, basketball center Jason Collins became the first openly gay male athlete in professional sports after being signed to the Brooklyn Nets.

Source – http://www.glaad.org/

Homophobia in Sports: When Poor Sportsmanship Becomes a Problem

Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean-King blazed trails by being out sportswomen before the majority of today’s out, sports playing ladies could even say the phrase ‘gay rights’. For example, there are several members of the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) who proudly wear the ‘out lesbian’ badge next to their Olympic gold medals for football, but these are recent announcements, in part spurred on by the way that was paved before them. The women’s game – any game or sport that is, not just the ‘beautiful’ one – is, by and large, welcoming one of non-heterosexual identities. We have seen the overwhelmingly positive reaction to these stars coming out, but a majority of acceptance does not guarantee no ignorance across every sporting past-time and in the real world, with none of the societal responsibilities granted by the media’s spotlight, things can be far harsher to those who identify as non-heterosexual.

What happens when homophobia makes its way into our real life sports clubs?

We can thrash them. Up, down, left and right, just thrash them with wins until they concede and admit that the non-straight members of the club are wonderful and also wickedly good at tennis/football/whatever their chosen sport may be. Well, it’s easy enough to say that of course but winning the ignorant members into submission could be tricky. Instead, it may be easier to go over their head – is there a club manager or officer or any higher up (we’re talking the money people here) that you can talk to? If there’s one thing that gets club manager’s goats more than rainy days, it’s the threat of a loss of money and a paying customer is still a paying customer even if they happen to be a gay one.

However, if the problem is systematic, what can you do then? The answer isn’t so simple, the deeper the homophobia goes, the higher the action you should (maybe) consider taking. Specifically does your state or country have any anti-discrimination laws in place that combat against this sort of thing? Very often, experiences of homophobia will fall under these laws, especially if actual verbal abuse has been said as that could be classed as harassment, which is technically a crime.

If you’re looking for the other option, the one that ends with the homophobic person in question laughing over a drinks and coming up with new songs to yell about the opposing team, then the best option is usually to talk. Ask the right questions and be understanding that some other people might not be. It’s never your duty to make other people comfortable but sometimes, their ignorance comes from a place of misunderstanding and not hatred. But that said, if talking doesn’t work and there seems to be no other option, take it to the courts, give them a thrashing and get the hard earned victory that you deserve.