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Sociology Sport

Homosexuality in Sport

Apparently I haven’t already blogged about this, which surprises me. I watched the Amal Fashanu documentary about her uncle, Justin Fashanu, who was the first footballer to come out, and later committed suicide. It surprises me that I don’t remember it because I really liked football in the late 90s.

Anyway, the programme disappointed me slightly: I think I was expecting something a bit more hard-hitting, where she would really get at the system that condones homophobia in football, and sport more generally. But, from the perspective that it was obviously a difficult time for her family, and that she had to ask her dad some difficult questions, I think she was very brave. Amal certainly came across much better than her dad did.

It was really disheartening to see how evasive almost everyone she talked to was, and how difficult it was for her to even get anyone to talk to her. The FA seemed to employ some sort of misguided equality tactics, by sending a woman to speak to her. Because it’s not just a boys’ club, you know, women work there too (maybe they should’ve sent a black woman so they could tick two boxes). And they had to meet outside. Could they not even let into the building and offer her a coffee?!

In fact the (surprisingly) best contributor from the British football world was Joey Barton. Probably the player with the worst reputation in professional football, chastising the industry for its poor attitude towards homosexuality. As well as Joey, Amal also managed to interview the only openly gay footballer in the world: Anton Hysen, in Sweden. You would hope that the positivity he has experienced would encourage others.

I completely understand why footballers and athletes are apprehensive about coming out. It’s a sad state of affairs that they have to be. But I really can’t wrap my head around why people have a problem with homosexuality. Does it really come down to being worried that a gay footballer might fancy his team mate? To not wanting to be looked at in that way? Are they worried that if two footballers on the same team are gay they might start kissing in the changing room? Even if it did happen, that would still be less shocking than what some get up to. And what are the fans worried about?

Apparently this is also an issue in the US, where the You Can Play project takes this stand:

Locker rooms should be safe and sports venues should be free from homophobia. Athletes should be judged on talent, heart and work ethic, not sexual orientation.

The Justin Campaign does similar work in the UK:

The Justin Campaign seeks to challenge the stereotypes and misconceptions that exist around LGB & T (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans) people and work towards a future where the visibility of LGB & T people in football is both accepted and celebrated.

The Justin Campaign

I stopped following football a few years ago when I decided that there was no justification for their incredibly high wages, and the Russian oligarchs were taking over at Chelsea, starting the trend of millionaire buy-outs.I switched over to rugby. I’m incredibly proud of Gareth Thomas for being the world’s first openly gay team professional sportsman; and for the rugby industry being so supportive.

I really hope that the visibility this issue is gaining will lead to more people showing their support, so that gay sports people do not have to fear the consequences of coming out.

Guatemala Honduras and Guatemala 2005

Juego Futbol

Last day of Spanish School! Huzzah! Might request a teacher who knows a lot of English in Honduras! I was learning yet more verbs today. And still don’t know past or future tense!

I went on my first chicken bus ride today. These buses don’t have timetables: they leave when they’re full to bursting. Imagine my disappointment when the driver left when it was only half full! I was really looking forward to being squashed up against the locals! We went up to Santa Maria de Jesus, which is a community on the slopes of Volcan Agua were the volunteers go.

It’s a strange place, but probably just like everywhere else here. You go up the volcano and all you see from the road is breeze-block buildings on the hills, and lots of rubbish (I’m sure you can imagine what it smells like). Most of the roads were paved and there were some convenience stores along the bigger roads. All the houses are small: 2-3 rooms per family. The infant school consisted of a room with a small sheltered area of dirt outside. They had a couple of toilets and a sink too, but it wasn’t much at all. But then when we were leaving, we walked up to the ‘centre’ to catch a bus, and there was all sorts: more shops, a police station, civil offices: not what I was expecting!

So Friday is sports day in the schools, which means football. We walked from the infant school to the junior school, and then everyone walked out of the town and down the hill a bit to the football field: a fair-sized patch of grass on a slope, near crops and a donkey tied to a small post. We had proper goals which surprised me, but no-one seemed to care where the edge of the pitch was. Basically, if the ball went into the nettles or went shooting past the goal, then it was out. Guatemalans play really frantic football. Everyone follows the ball wherever it goes – no defenders or strikers. Only the goalie stayed where he was. I think there was about 40 of us on the pitch. Maybe a little less. My team won 6-3 which was good news cuz the teacher Santiago was on the other team, and he’s really competitive (and a Spurs supporter!). Me, Keegan and Robyn didn’t really want to tackle the kids, but we had no problem going after him! He was really good tho, and so were a lot of the older kids.

My lower back is really killing now. I don’t think I’ve played football since me, Maz, Danny, Cameron and everyone else used to play in Twm or Nant! And I probably haven’t run much since then either.

We all went to Dom and Doreen’s for a barbeque in the evening. It was more fun than last week’s cuz at least I knew everyone this week. It’s Grace and Robyn’s last day, so they got a present each, and Dom and Michael each said how much their work was appreciated.