Showing posts with label International Sports Homophobia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label International Sports Homophobia. Show all posts

July 28, 2016

Brazil an Anti Gay Country Hosting Gays in Olympics


Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy, who came out as gay shortly after the 2014 Winter Games,
poses with dogs he rescued from Sochi. (Photo: Photo by Robin MacDonald)

 Activists, out Olympians say visibility more important — yet fear far greater — on biggest stage in sports

Gus Kenworthy was ready to tell the world he was gay. The freestyle skier had his coming-out story planned in his head before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
He understood the gravity of the situation. Through weeks of soul-searching he had concluded the stage was perfect. Russia was attracting global attention for introducing legislation that purported to criminalize homosexual activity on the spurious grounds that it corrupted the minds of children. What better place to make a stand?
“Then,” Kenworthy tells USA TODAY Sports. “I ended up not doing it.”
Kenworthy captured the hearts of the Olympic television audience in Sochi, winning a silver medal and then adopting a pair of adorable stray dogs.
After returning home, he soon became the first action sports star to come out as gay. 
 "For me, coming out after the Olympics was right,” he says. “The Olympics are overwhelming as an athlete. You work so hard for four years, heck, your entire life even, to get to that point. That commands all your focus.” 


The rationale is understandable. Why come out and risk creating a distraction? It's a question athletes could be pondering now as they prepare for the Rio Olympic Games, which begin with the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5.
“There might be 500 or so gay athletes competing in Rio, but almost all of them are closeted,” says Outsports co-founder Jim Buzinski. “The biggest lie is that it’s not important to come out.”
Buzinski estimates there will be more than 30 out Olympians competing next month. According to Outsports, there were 23 out athletes at the London Games from more than 10,000 Olympians, and 12 of 10,708 at the 2008 Beijing Games. Buzinski concedes that the pro-LGBT movement has stalled over the past couple of years. Rio provides an opportunity to regain that momentum, he says.
"There hasn’t been a headline-grabbing athlete to come out,” Buzinski says. “That’s why the Olympics are so unique. It’s three weeks where someone from a non-major sport can take center stage. Gus (Kenworthy) … had star power. But he froze. His reason for waiting made sense personally, but he missed a big opportunity.”

Worse than Sochi

In the build-up to Sochi, LGBT issues were a hot topic of discussion, with Russia’s legislation sparking international outrage. President Obama made a statement by including openly gay former athletes in the United States delegation for the Closing Ceremony. 


Yet the conversation has been significantly muted as Rio approaches, primarily because the concern in Brazil is much more complicated. The country has an image as a tolerant, open society and the world’s biggest gay pride parade takes place annually in Sao Paulo. Yet the New York Times recently tabbed the country “the world’s deadliest” place for the LGBT community, citing an average of one LGBT person killed per day, according to Grupo Gay da Bahia, a long-time advocacy group for LGBT rights in Brazil.
“It is hard to be LGBT in Brazil because the threat is constant,” says Dayana Gusmao, an executive for Rio Sem Homofobia (Rio Without Homophobia). “We have had so many cases of fathers beating their gay children to (try to) make them straight. We still have people who want to correct lesbians by raping them. Brazil is not a safe place to be LGBT.”

The Brazilian constitution orders equal treatment for all, regardless of sexuality, but those intentions often fail to translate into reality.
For the LGBT community, the sports world is in a concerning cycle where major events have been awarded to nations with a troubling track record on gay rights. Following Sochi, Russia will also host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Soccer’s biggest event will go to Qatar, a nation where homosexuality is outlawed, in 2022. In the U.S., the 2017 NBA All-Star Game was moved due to North Carolina’s discriminatory House Bill 2.
Just how deeply the Olympic movement should involve itself in such matters is a point of contention. The IOC has struggled to attract elite bids from countries other than those that resemble modern dictatorships.
“If Brazil is the home of the largest percentage of (LGBT) hate crimes, and we have LGBT athletes competing, then this is an Olympic issue. It’s that simple,” says Athlete Ally executive director Hudson Taylor.
Why sponsors won't drop out athletes
As Brazil fights against outdated stereotypes, there is also a steeliness in the resolve of out athletes who accept that the battle for acceptance is not yet won.

The fear that exposure of an athlete’s sexual orientation will supersede a performance becomes intensified at the Olympic level, according to You Can Play executive director Wade Davis, who helps coach closeted athletes on their coming out processes. Davis says visibility is the difference-maker to quell discrimination in locker rooms and in society.
“We’re not talking about just a (skin color) minority here,” he says. “It’s a hidden minority. You have to be out for people to really see you.”
“The more athletes that come out, the better things will get,” adds Mexico women’s soccer player Bianca Sierra, who recently received a homophobic backlash on Twitter after sharing a picture with her girlfriend. “If we as professional athletes are comfortable with who we are, we can inspire others who look up to us to be who they are.”

Fear of losing sponsors is a major reason many athletes choose not to come out, but Buzinski says it’s “an argument that keeps getting thinner and thinner.”
“If Nike or Adidas dropped a gay athlete, can you imagine the backlash? If anything, being gay would increase your marketability,” Buzinski says.
Greg Louganis won Olympic gold medals for the U.S. in 1984 and 1988 and came out in 1994. He recalls a much different era.
 "There were moral clauses where a part of your personal life could be used as a reason to cut sponsorship,” says Louganis, who received a Wheaties box this May in response to an online petition.
Louganis says he believes there was “subtle homophobia” from NBC during the 2008 Beijing Games. The network apologized for its coverage of openly gay diver Matthew Mitcham, who won gold in the 10-meter platform and raced into the stands to embrace his partner at which point NBC’s cameras cut away.
“(NBC) showed stories about everyone else’s families,” Louganis says. “But just eight years ago, a major network was uncomfortable with a gay couple.”
Louganis, a gay rights activist, was involved in the “Open Games” – athletics events organized by LGBT rights groups that coincided with Sochi. A bomb threat halted the opening ceremony. “Visibility comes at a cost,” Louganis says.
While athletes are focused on their dreams of success and their personal challenges, the LGBT community in Rio continues to push for change. A series of protests are planned during the Games, much like during the World Cup.

In true Brazilian style, LGBT protests in Rio look more like parties, such as one attended by USA TODAY Sports this year. Many wore bandages and carried crutches in protest of police violence against LGBT revelers during the Carnaval in February, while samba music, dance and performance art provided a dazzling backdrop.
“The police just do whatever they need to do to shut us up,” protester Tiago Goncalves, 29, said. “They do whatever they want. We need progress.”
Progress is a vital concept in the LGBT movement, with many athletes wrestling between serving the public good and avoiding distractions.
U.S. gymnast Josh Dixon, who did not make the team this year for Rio or four years ago for London, believes an Olympian’s athletic and personal identity are intertwined and called coming out as gay four years ago a “responsibility for the next generation.” 


British racewalker Tom Bosworth, who is well positioned for a medal at Rio, says timing was essential in his coming-out process.
“I had everything in place,” Bosworth says. “I was comfortably out, I was with my partner for five years, all of my friends and family knew. And I never hid it from my teammates. This all made it really easy to go public.”
Those luxuries were the exact obstacles that stood in the way for Kenworthy before the Sochi Games.
“I just wasn’t ready. It was too much all at once. I hadn’t told my family or my best friend so it was so much more daunting to come out to the world,” says Kenworthy. “I think it’s super scary coming out of the closet for anyone whether you’re in a small town, have a religious family or you’re involved in a sport with homophobic language.
“ ‘Responsibility’ is too intense of a word for coming out as an Olympian. You want to do it to help people, sure. But it’s gotta be for you first. And coming out has been the best decision of my life.”

 and , posted on USA TODAY Sports
Rogers reported from Rio De Janeiro.

March 1, 2016

Open Letter to Philippine Boxer/Politician Who said “Gays are Worse than Animals”



                                                                         
 Manny Pacquiao


I NEVER chose to be gay. In fact, I had been fighting it for almost a decade. I broke friendships out of fear and loathing that I could be one of them.

And then, when I finally realized I could no longer suffocate myself within the thick walls of denial, I put up; I accepted who I really am. Now there’s this politician who preaches like he’s some sort of God-appointed messiah condemning my existence, and he says that I am abominable. That I am a sin walking on two legs. That I am worse than animals.

Well, to the preacher by night, boxer by day, and congressman out of sheer luck, I do not condemn you. I do not abhor your existence on the soil I was born to. I do not even seek to criticize the many absences you have incurred in the House or Representatives. 

I am a human born under the oath to do good in this world, to not hold a grudge against those who will seek to destroy my values, and to always seek a better understanding of things that challenge my principles. I dare not say that I am better than you, for you might have only been misguided, misinformed or just unperceptive. But you insulted the very book that had nourished my values since I was young. You insulted the man and woman who had instilled in me the right to live, love and be respected. You judged inadequate the friendships I have earned from accepting each person’s individuality and, therefore, differences.

Perhaps you do not have the capacity to understand all these. Perhaps you chose to attach the foulest word to the already negative stigma of the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) community because negative publicity is still publicity, after all. You are entitled to your opinion. But you have propagated judgment of a community too complex for anyone like you to understand. And we did not ask for that. We did not ask for one of the famous Filipino icons in this century to compare us to animals solely because animals are much better at knowing who to partner and procreate with.

Do you know what it’s like to have all your belongings taken from you because the union between you and your deceased partner of 25 years is not legally recognized in this country? Do you know the inner struggle an adolescent endures in accepting his sexuality when his dad condemns the “gay lifestyle” every dinner time? Did you ever, for a second (before you delivered the most asinine, tactless remarks in your career), ask your assistant to verify if animals indeed do not practice homosexuality? I bet your science teacher would not be so proud of you.

What you said is indeed most unfortunate for me. I had the chance to sit a few seats away from you back when you had just won your second major boxing world title, the IBF Super Bantamweight. I was 12, still young, but I was already confounded by my intense crush on a fellow female student. You were quite modest and self-deprecating for a celebrity. It was humbling to have met you back when you were still not pressured to seek a public post and build your own church.

I held that image of you—a nice guy from Mindanao who carried the banner of the whole Filipino nation and fought for recognition by the international community. Though I am not a fan of the sport, I salute your battles for you united this nation in your winning bouts. But, Manny Pacquiao, I ask of you not to divide this country on such a universal struggle as the fight for LGBTQIA rights. Maybe you are still unaware of your duties as a political figure, an influential icon, or a hero to many of my countrymen. Maybe you are unaware that what you said had caused a ripple in our society, the consequences of which could be devastating especially to members of the LGBTQIA community who look up to you. Or maybe you are just a man who sees only what he wants to see and hears only what he wants to hear. I thought it was futile to hope that you would fight for my right to be recognized in the country I dearly love.

On a final note, I read that you had apologized by saying you were only quoting the Bible. Perhaps you got lost in translating English to Filipino. Even Pope Francis was mindful enough not to judge us. The Pope said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Let me rephrase it for you, Manny. If someone is running for a seat in the Senate and he says that gays are worse than animals, who is he to judge?
Breccia Zerda, 26, French-German, is a financial analyst at FactSet Philippines Inc.


Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/93349/who-are-you-to-judge#ixzz41bjGoIpN
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November 12, 2014

Twickenham Homophobic Rugby Crowd


                                                                            

A section of the Twickenham rugby crowd has come in for criticism for allegedly hurling homophobic abuse at controversial Welsh referee Nigel Owens during the All Blacks' win over England last Sunday.
Owens, openly gay, has come in for widespread criticism for his performance in New Zealand's victory where he made several questionable calls and appeared to be influenced by repeated replays on the ground's video screens.
But it seems some of the criticism was far more personal and came while the game was being played at the famous London ground that will be headquarters for next year's World Cup.
The Guardian newspaper picked up on the issue today in a wider piece centred around the general boorish behaviour of the rugby crowd.
The respected newspaper received several letters following the match and rugby writer Robert Kitson used those as the basis of an article highlighting problems from the game's sidelines.
He noted the correspondence from South Yorkshire rugby fan Keith Wilson, who wrote: "As a lifelong rugby fan, a straight man in his 60s, I could not believe that a bunch of men half my age watching a rugby match in the 21st century could be capable of hurling such nasty, foul-mouthed, racist, homophobic abuse at an openly gay match official.
"My equally disgusted son is in his 30s but next to him, hearing this vitriol, was a little boy. I felt ashamed."
Wilson believed excessive alcohol was involved and suggested that "if it had been a football match they'd have been thrown out".
There was no suggesting of any investigations or actions from authorities with Twickenham set to host England's clash with the Springboks this weekend.
The paper also received complaints about the English attitude towards the All Blacks' haka that saw the massive Twickenham crowd signing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot over the top of the prematch ritual.
Their reaction to attempted goal kicks was also questioned.
Ross Anderson, a Kiwi living in High Wycombe, wasn't happy with the "82,000 unsporting yahoos who drowned the sound of the haka and booed the kickers".
Anderson said he had watched the game on TV, having given up going to Twickenham years ago "as I didn't like being surrounded by xenophobic yobs who knew little about rugby".
Kitson, himself, couldn’t resist a dig at the haka, noting that "virtually any kind of response to the haka, as we know, is a diplomatic minefield nowadays".
It used to be one of the sport's great sights but there are increasing signs of it being perceived outside New Zealand as an overblown pantomime-exhibit staged for self-serving reasons and, possibly, commercial advantage. Welcome to the era of the computer haka, performed with half an eye on the YouTube market," Kitson wrote.
But he was more concerned with the Twickenham reaction to Richie McCaw being awarded man of the match honours, with announcement greeted by boos.
"McCaw is a man who has shown extraordinary levels of fortitude and ranks up there with the greatest of all time," Kitson wrote.
"Should New Zealand happen to stumble out prior to the semifinals of next year's World Cup this will have been the last sighting of him in a test at Twickenham. It is a bit like booing Pelé late in his career."
In a country where football hooligans have regularly made headlines for all the wrong reasons, Kitson expressed disappointment at rugby's decline in a key area.
"Nowadays, rugby's right to the moral high ground is increasingly shaky, even with great men such as McCaw around. It might even be that umpteen referrals to the television match official is part of the problem, arousing more frustration than it solves and encouraging a climate of dissent among players and spectators alike.
“Refining the TMO system, however, is not the only thing the game's authorities must address between now and next year's Rugby World Cup," he finished.

June 21, 2014

Brazil and Mexico face penalties for abusive anti gay chants at World Cup Game


                                                                              
 Brazil could face punishment for the “homophobic” behaviour of their fans after they were reported to Fifa over chants heard in their World Cup draw with Mexico. The Fare network, which is monitoring discriminatory behaviour at the tournament, alerted the world governing body to supporters’ use of the word “Puto” at the Group A game in Fortaleza.
Brazil and Mexico were both reported for aiming the abusive word - meaning male whore - at the opposition goalkeeper, with the visitors also cited for the same chant in their opening victory against Cameroon.
Fifa confirmed it had opened disciplinary proceedings against Mexico over the “improper conduct” of their spectators in that game.
Russia and Croatia, meanwhile, face action over “neo-Nazi” banners displayed during their respective matches against South Korea and Brazil.
Supporters of the two countries, repeat offenders when it comes to racism and anti-Semitism, were reported by the Fare network at the same time as those of Brazil and Mexico yesterday. 
Piara Powar, executive director of Fare and a member of Fifa’s anti-racism task force, told The Telegraph: “It seems that some fans of some countries will take their hatred halfway around the world. These images need to be acted on urgently.
“The levels of homophobic abuse at some matches is also totally unacceptable. There is some rapid education required before it begins to run out of control.
“Fifa has some strong regulations in place and we hope they use them. Zero tolerance is the approach set out. It is what is required here.”
Brazil and Mexico could escape with a warning for what would be classed as a first offence under Fifa’s disciplinary code but Russia and Croatia may face the threat of points deductions.
The World Cup is the second major tournament in a row in which their fans have been accused of racism, with both sanctioned more than once by Uefa during the European Championship two years ago. Russia were hit with a suspended six-point penalty for their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign for various offences, including the display of illicit banners and monkey chants.
Banners at their game on Tuesday contained the Celtic Cross, a symbol used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists worldwide.
The conduct of Russian supporters will heap pressure on organisers of the 2018 World Cup, with Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré last year warning black players could boycott the tournament if they continued to be abused after suffering monkey chants in Moscow.
Croatia’s offensive banner in the World Cup against Brazil contained the coat of arms of a fascist regime under Nazi control during World War II.
Their football federation was fined three times at Euro 2012 for various supporter offences, including the display of illicit banners and monkey chants directed at Italy striker Mario Balotelli.
The Croatia-Italy game also saw a banana thrown onto the pitch.
Fifa’s head of media, Delia Fischer, said: “We encourage individuals and groups such as Fare to submit any evidence in their possession with regard to discriminatory behaviour for the analysis and consideration of the FIFA disciplinary committee.”
Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, has repeatedly promised to clamp down on racism in football, calling for “sporting sanctions” such as points deductions to be imposed on offenders rather than the stadium closures favoured by Uefa. He said recently: “Sporting sanctions are the only effective punishment.”

June 20, 2014

"Puto” Mexico Soccer fans Yell to Gay Players



Posted // July 4,2011 -

Mexico's soccer fans have brought their chant that's a gay slur to the World Cup in Brazil, using the phrase during the games against Cameroon and Brazil. Anyone watching TV broadcasts also would have heard it during both of Mexico’s games and ESPN says it will try and prevent it from being heard on-air.
                                                                            

 
¡Puto!," many of Mexico's supporters chant laughingly during goal kicks by the opposing team's goal keeper (see video from a 2013 U.S.-Mexico game for an example). The word is slang for "fag" or "man whore" or "coward." Some say its use in soccer is a cultural phrase that means cowardly and is not directed at gays, but the meaning is clearly designed to mock the opponent as weak and unmanly.

Andres Aradillas-Lopez, an economics professor at Penn State, was born in Mexico and the slur disgusts him, as he told me via email:

"I heard them during the Cameroon game and also today against Brazil. Every single time the opposing goalie had a goal kick they chanted ["puto"]. Every time. I watched both games on ESPN (in English, not ESPN Deportes). I've lived in the U.S. for 15 years, but I was born and bred in Mexico and my family is still there. I know exactly what they mean when they yell that slur.

"The media should make a bigger deal out of this and publicly shame that country and its fans. No other country in the world does this, and it would be unacceptable in any U.S stadium. I am from Mexico and this behavior brings me profound shame. I am not gay but I have always defended equal rights and respect for everyone. 

"Yes, the word 'puto' has different meanings, but there is only one interpretation in this particular case which is to question one's manhood. Therefore it is being used as a homophobic slur in this instance, there are no two ways around it. I am sure if you ask any gay man who grew up in Mexico he will find this word deeply offensive and hurtful. Mexican fans argue that they don't use it as a homophobic slur, but it is as nonsensical as Dan Snyder and others claiming that "redskin" is not a slur but a term of 'endearment.' It is the typical response from a bully."
Brazil’s fans got into the act during the 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday, with one writer noting, "Brazil supporters trolling Mexico with the 'Puto' chant on every Mexico goal kick."


I reached out to ESPN to see if the network was aware of the chant and got this reply from a spokesman to my questions:

Q: Does ESPN control the crowd noise level at all or is this a feed?

A: "The audio is supplied by FIFA. Our control of the audio level is limited because we do not have specific microphones on the field."

Q: Were people at ESPN aware of the "puto" chant and its meaning?

A: "No. We are now and we will be vigilant to prevent a recurrence of such language being broadcast on our air. We have we also reached out to FIFA."
This has been an issue with Mexico's fans and the chant before, and Spanish TV broadcaster Univision has at times muted the sound of the crowd during opposing goal kicks. ESPN might employ the same tactic since it's apparent when there is about to be a goal kick. Mexico's next game will be Monday against Croatia and kickoff is 4 p.m. EDT.

After a player in Major League Soccer was suspended for using a gay slur, the Houston Chronicle noted that "a group of [Houston] Dynamo supporters has embraced the tradition, which originated in Mexico and is common at many MLS stadiums." Our friends at Gay4soccer implored MLS to take action against the use of "puto" in its stadiums, writing that "it's a word that has no place in soccer."

Soccer America's Mike Woitalla noted: "Teams around the world are being punished with fines or stadium closures for racist chants. There have even been fines for booing national anthems. But the rulers of the game -- i.e. FIFA, Concacaf, Femexfut -- seem to have no problem with this homophobic Mexican fan tradition."

CONAPRED, the Mexican federal department charged with eliminating discrimination condemns the use of puta, saying that it "reflects homophobia, sexism and misogyny that still is prevalent in our society."

The use of the word at Mexican soccer matches dates back to only 2003, so claiming this is some hallowed tradition is absurd. It’s time that slurs against gays got the same treatment as racist slurs and a good place to start is with the use of “puto".



March 13, 2014

EU Champions are in Hot Water over Anti Gay Prank Sign






UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings after match with Arsenal
Current Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) champions, Bayern Munich, are in hot water with European football’s governing body after fans of the German club displayed a homophobic banner at a match with Arsenal March 11.
According to The Guardian, UEFA has initiated disciplinary actions against Bayern Munich because of their supporters’ discriminatory behavior, the unfurling of “an illicit banner,” and a late start to the match with their English rivals.
The banner in question bore the words, “Gay Gunners,” and featured a caricature of German footballer and Arsenal team member, Mesut Özil, with a cannon pointed at his ass.
Arsenal is affectionately known by the nickname, “The Gunners.”
If UEFA decides a penalty is in order, the Bundesliga champions could face a substantial fine. Scottish club, Celtic, were fined €50,000 after “illicit” banners were displayed in another UEFA Champions League match against Milan in November.
A British current affairs TV program recently went undercover to investigate the extent of homophobia and racism in English football, recording 20 incidents of homophobia during three Brighton home and away matches alone.  
Reporters for a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, Undercover: Hate on the Terraces, that aired March 3, filmed football fans singing anti-gay chants within earshot of a police officer when their club played an away game at Brighton, GayUK reports. In another match played against Wigan on the latter’s home ground, reporters filmed more homophobic chants and comments, noting that children were also heard joining in.
“It’s a long way home, you faggots” and “Do you take it up the arse?” were among the chants the Channel 4 crew recorded.


                                                                                    

February 13, 2014

New Litmus Test by NFL for Gay Players

                                                                         



There is no easy answer to whether a locker room will or won’t accept Sam. The good news is that it is no longer a question of if, but rather when, drafting a player won’t be impacted by what he does on his own time. Skin color is no longer an impediment to drafting. Someday, perhaps not today, the idea of an openly gay teammate who can, as is the prerequisite in NFL, make the team better, won’t be an issue.

In the NFL’s past, it was proven commodities that broke the color barrier. It was the upstart AFL that made football an equal opportunity employer. A half century later, the same process is replicating. There will come a time where a player’s personal life doesn’t throw up an organizational red flag.

The NFL wanted the Incognito/Martin bullying story to go away. In the short-term, it has. In the big picture, the NFL locker room is being viewed as the litmus test for the equal rights of homosexuals.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
The revelation that Missouri linebacker Michael Sam, viewed as a Day 3 draft pick in May’s NFL draft, is gay has put the NFL in the news at a time when things are slowing down and players are only star starting to shake off the rust of healing by starting to work out on their own prior to the onset of organized team activities and semi-voluntary workout programs.

The question of whether the NFL is ready to integrate gay players is the real question. There have been gay NFL players for decades – and not just two or three. The difference was that nobody came out publicly and said it. Perhaps we have reached a period in our evolution that it shouldn’t matter if someone is gay or straight.

It won’t be long until marriage equality becomes federally mandated for those states that will be leaving heel marks while being dragged into compliance. The same has happened in our nation’s history. Women getting the right to vote took far too long. Racial equality has taken longer, and some can argue that while we’re as close as we’ve ever been to actual racial equality in this country there remains huge inequities that will only be erased when those at the highest level of power get old and die off.

Every movement has had a flashpoint of resistance. For the civil rights movement, it was the non-integrated South that provided that critical point of whether the equal rights to African Americans would be granted, delayed or denied.

In the debate over the universal acceptance of one’s sexual orientation, there is no bigger proving ground than an NFL locker room.

As someone who has spent 20 years in NFL locker rooms, there are few environments that are more high-testosterone. These are the guys that have always been the alpha males of their herd. This isn’t a lunchroom counter in Selma. This is Kanye West crashing a Klan rally. It’s big.

In his own way, Sam is going to be the Jackie Robinson test case. The Brooklyn Dodgers were the team that made the decision to integrate Major League Baseball. As a prospect with a grade somewhere in the third or fourth round, the length of time Sam remains on the board will be telling.

There will be some teams, like it or not, that will rank him so low the only way he ends up on their roster is if it’s in the seventh round. If then. Professional interviewee Chris Kluwe has opined that that the Patriots and Packers would be the ideal landing spots for Sam. Apparently he has become a go-to “expert” on the inner psyche of a homosexual man, although he is not one himself. If you believe Kluwe’s rationale, he was cut for his mere support of gay causes. How will a locker room and a front office react to someone that isn’t merely a propped-up mouthpiece for the cause, but an actual advocate for the cause? That is the question.

There is no easy answer to whether a locker room will or won’t accept Sam. The good news is that it is no longer a question of if, but rather when, drafting a player won’t be impacted by what he does on his own time. Skin color is no longer an impediment to drafting. Someday, perhaps not today, the idea of an openly gay teammate who can, as is the prerequisite in NFL, make the team better, won’t be an issue.

In the NFL’s past, it was proven commodities that broke the color barrier. It was the upstart AFL that made football an equal opportunity employer. A half century later, the same process is replicating. There will come a time where a player’s personal life doesn’t throw up an organizational red flag.

The NFL wanted the Incognito/Martin bullying story to go away. In the short-term, it has. In the big picture, the NFL locker room is being viewed as the litmus test for the equal rights of homosexuals.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

August 15, 2013

This American Beauty of an American Runner is Willing To Be Arrested for Speaking Out

Brave: American runner Nick Symmonds has denounced Russia's law against 'gay propaganda'

American runner Nick Symmonds has become the first international athlete to speak out against Russia's ban on 'gay propaganda', but fears he'll 'get put in jail for it'.
After winning a silver medal in the 800m in Moscow yesterday, the outspoken middle distance runner criticized the controversial law which passed in June. 
'As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality however God made them,' Symmonds said after the race at Luzhniki stadium.
Symmonds' comments could contravene the new law which bans statements maintaining the 'equivalence of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations', according to The Guardian.
'Whether you're gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there's anything I can do to champion the cause and further it I will, shy of getting arrested. I respect Russians' ability to govern their people. I disagree with their laws.'
The law has prompted strong calls among Western activists for a boycott of the Winter Olympics, which Russia will host in Sochi early next year.
Foreign citizens who violate the law in the media face a fine of up to 100,000 roubles (US$3000), arrest for up to 15 days and deportation.
Symmonds' statements come after he wrote a blog for Runner's World stating his support for gay rights. 
'If I am placed in a race with a Russian athlete, I will shake his hand, thank him for his country's generous hospitality, and then, after kicking his (butt) in the race, silently dedicate the win to my gay and lesbian friends back home,' he wrote. 
'Upon my return, I will then continue to fight for their rights in my beloved democratic union.'
However when questioned by AP about the laws in Moscow yesterday, he said:  'I can't talk about it. You're not allowed to talk about it here. I'll get put in jail for it.'
The intersection of politics and sports can be awkward, as this year's world championships demonstrates. 
Scared: US runner Nick Symmonds, center in green, fears he could be imprisoned for standing up for gay rights in Russia
The competition is being held at Luzhniki Stadium, the main venue used for the 1980 Moscow Olympics that the U.S. boycotted.
Although the athletes at the worlds won't be competing in Sochi, it's the first major sports event hosted by Russia since the law was passed. It's also seen as an informal test event for the Olympics.
Russia will also host the swimming world championships in 2015 and the World Cup in 2018, so how the law is enforced will likely be a long-standing issue for sports.
Controversial: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law the bill punishing people for homosexual 'propaganda'
Symmonds' concern about jail underlines how the law's vagueness makes it intimidating. The law's definition of 'propaganda' hinges on intent.
Anyone who distributes information with the 'intention' of persuading minors that non-traditional sexual relationships are 'attractive' or 'interesting' could be accused of breaking the law.
Russia has given contradictory signals on how the law will apply to the Olympics. Some said the law would be suspended during the games, but the Interior Ministry has said it would be enforced.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said last week that the Russian government provided written reassurances about the law, but that more clarity was needed. 
FIFA has also asked for 'clarification and more details'.
 
During the Olympics, the IOC bans athletes from making political statements.  [Daily Mail]

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