Challenging homophobia in sport

6 Sport Homophobia

When you go to a football match you expect to enjoy the event and hope your team wins, right? Showing support for your respective team. However this is not the case when it comes to most gay people in sports who fear homophobia from all quarters.

Homophobia has become a worrying problem. If we look at America as an example, how many openly gay NFL players will you find? Very, very few. If you go to any sports game, especially here in Ireland, it’s always “faggot this” and “faggot that” and everything is suddenly gay or a “fruit” if something isn’t going their way. When a GAA football player was recently asked about this, he said “sure, it’s only a bit of banter and they mean nothing by it”. So, calling someone by a derogatory name – something that kids label those who come out of the closet and traumatising them – is suddenly just a bit of banter?

Now this isn’t telling you to be a self-righteous liberal, politically correct do-gooder. However, if we look at sports like the GAA it’s part of the country’s culture, it’s something many have given life-long dedication to. Shouldn’t that mean the games should be more accepting of those who want to join, rather than alienating them due to being different? Obviously, this cannot be blamed on every supporter of players of GAA, soccer, rugby or any other sports.

When an MEP from Munster hit out at the homophobia that many in GAA grounds had displayed against the first openly gay player within the county the GAA responded “We’re very disappointed that a public representative would choose to hone in on one specific incident in what was a very long speech by a valued member of the GAA and a person of very high standing among his peers in the Gaelic Players’ Association.” So rather than honing in on this incident and saying it’s a problem, they just say it’s nothing to worry about and move on!

It is clear homophobic attitudes still damage LGBT people in general, but those who run sports and the political establishment need to be challenged and firmly opposed when they turn a blind eye to homophobic abuse and discrimination.

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