After a Twitter outcry, Punk was forced to apologise saying:
I was pretty worked up today. The amendment 1 situation had me all wound up. I stand by my thoughts on gay marriage 100%. How I defended That stance was 100% wrong. I admit it. You can’t stoop to others levels. Sometimes I fight fire with fire and it isn’t ways the best way. I apologize. I don’t want you to kill yourself. I want you to better yourself. Just as I want to better myself.
Meanwhile, in Australia, Adelaide United player Antony Golec was suspended for one game, given a two match suspended ban, and forced to undergo counselling for directing homophobic abuse at an official over the micro-blogging site.
Have the FA got their approach to this problem right? Is it even a problem at all? Fill in the poll below and let us know what you think in the comments.
She tells GSB why it’s “sad” that athletes in more high-profile sports can’t act as role models to young people, discusses issues around the way the media treats the subject of homophobia in sport, explains why her sexuality doesn’t matter in the dressing room and says that there will always be barriers as long as specialist clubs exist.
To listen to the full interview, click on the player below.
Sport England's Active People survey 5 will provide valuable information about sexual orientation and sports
I mentioned in a previous post that GSB had received a reply from Sport England into our inquiry regarding sexuality and sporting participation. This year Sport England re-introduced an element into their annual survey which asked participants to identify their sexual preference.
The fact that there were no results referring to this data on the Sport England website didn’t stop GSB. We contacted Sport England and requested some of their results on sexual preference from the most recent survey.
According to the researchers working on the Active People survey, the information is still being analysed and further results can be expected soon. However, Alan Dovastan from Sport England was able to tell us that early analysis suggests you are more likely to participate in sport if you are gay or lesbian than if you are heterosexual.
“Early indications suggest that you are more likely to participate in sport if you are gay or lesbian, than if you are heterosexual although further analysis of the figures is currently being undertaken and more detail will be available from the Sport England website shortly,” he said.
Half of the survey’s 166,00 participants were asked the following question:
Describe how they think of themselves, please say ‘yes’ when you hear the option that best describes how you think
Just over a third of England’s general population (34.6%) do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity sport each week. Findings suggest the figure for the gay and lesbian population is slightly higher, although exact statistics were not provided by Sport England. Researchers are apparently in the process of cross-analysing the responses with gender to give a more complete picture of this group.
More data from the rest of the survey is available on the website.
What do you think? Is how much sport you do really influenced by your sexual orientation? What reasons could explain these findings? We’d love to hear your views, so e-mail/tweet/fb/bash us around the head with a frying pan, and let us know what you think!
Professor Eric Anderson is an American sociologist at the University of Winchester. He is known for his research on sexualities and masculinities studies, particularly concerning sport and relationships. He believes that due to a switch in the social paradigm homophobia in sport is on the decline. He has written ten books, many of them award winners and best sellers and also regularly contributes to OutSports.com. Gay Sports Blog’s Sophia Heath caught up with him to hear his views on the decline of homophobia, why there are no out professional footballers and the impact of the Olympics.
Why do you believe that homophobia in sport is on the decline?
The effect which is happening in sport is the result of a much larger cultural shift and an overall decline in homophobia. Research has shown that since 1993 there has been an overall decline in homophobia and a complete change in social attitude. There can be a thousand different factors that you can attribute to this. The big one is the internet. Facebook now asks for your sexual orientation, Myspace asks you for your sexual orientation it is great. Men start to access porn at the age of 11 – whether by accident or on purpose they come across gay porn and this desensitises them. It’s got rid of that ‘oh my god it’s disgusting factor’ and ‘it’s just like so that happens.’ This is combined with other factors such as better representation, politics and of course the decline of religion to cause this social shift.
Why do you think that so far a professional footballer has not come out in the UK?
I think this is the red hearing of the whole homophobia in sport issue. So what? Who actually cares? There are tens and millions of youth and university athletes who are not experiencing homophobia. Compare this to what- a thousand professional athletes it is not that significant.
Take football there are roughly 1,500 top professional footballers. Three percent of males are gay and there is evidence to show that this is even lower at top level sport so it’s probably more like 1%- so we are talking about 15 guys here! It’s just the media likes to use it as a way of looking at homophobia in sport. It doesn’t take away from the overall positive
We are too focused on the professional level. We can’t use this small group of men as a gauge for society as a whole. That’s not what counts.
What about the argument that it is a bad commercial decision to be an out athlete?
Well there is a load of empirical evidence to show that is not true. Look at Gareth Thomas he has got a movie coming out! It’s not the case that sponsors are going to walk away because an athlete comes out it’s actually quite the opposite. Companies are happy to have gay representatives… People aren’t going to take a pair of sneakers back because the company supports someone who is gay.
So why do you think there is evidence of agents telling players not to come out?
There are agents who have said that but they are part of the old guard, they are the old school guys. It’s not the athletes who are homophobic any more it is the old coaches or athletic committee. These guys have had sporting careers and progressed up through the administration side and still know the old principles. When I interviewed Leigh Steinberg he said if his players came out they wouldn’t get professional endorsements. When I pointed out a few obvious examples he was like “oh”. It’s just a narrative for the media.
How do you think America compares to the UK in terms of homophobia in sport?
America has got what is known as a cultural lag behind the UK. Whatever is happening in the UK is paralleled in the US but there is a delay. I am doing research into it and its very hard to gauge but I I’m going to say the US is roughly a decade behind.
What effect do you think the Olympics coming to London will have on homophobia in sport?
It is a huge opportunity but it depends on how the media see it. You don’t need 100 gay athletes you just need one who the media covers. It’s all about the media coverage. I think there was an opportunity missed when Mathew Mitcham won gold in Australia. Obviously the gay press cover it but its just not really news for the mainstream press. It’s the same story athlete worries about coming out, athlete comes out, athlete actually accepted for coming out. There not a real story there.
I saw a kid come out to his running team. People used to say “oh my god”. He told his coach and he was just like “ok.” He told another team mate he was just like “Well done you came out.” There were no questions. People just don’t have those questions anymore. These kids have plenty of gay friends and it’s just not an issue. They have either already asked the questions they needed to ask or the internet will have the answers. He has boyfriend now and it is on Facebook.
The media just doesn’t really have the interest. You need a superstar to come out and then there will be a story again.
For more information on Professor Eric Anderson’s research please click here.
In 2010 Vancouver hosted a Pride House, which was a beacon for LGB athletes throughout the games and attracted more than 1000 athletes. There is also meant to be a similar building for the London Games. A gay-rights group in Russia had hoped to host a similar event in Sochi.
The Pride House at the 2010 Winter Olympics
The venue was going to be a space for conferences and events during the Games in just under two years’ time. Last year they were banned from being able to do so by the Russian Ministry of Justice, and this week a judge has upheld that decision.
The judge claimed that the creation of the Pride House would endanger local children and lead to the destruction of the federation. He said: “The aims of the organisation contradict the basics of public morality and the policy of the state in the area of family motherhood and childhood protection.
“The activities of the [Pride House] movement leads to propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation which can undermine the security of Russian society and the state, [and] provoke social-religious hatred, which is the feature of the extremist character of the activity.
“Moreover it can undermine the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation due to the decrease of Russia’s population.”
This is a shocking indication of Russia’s homophonic attitude. Homosexuality was only officially removed from the Russian list of mental illnesses in 1999.
New York based Human Rights First released a statement condemning the judges decision. They said: “Human Rights First condemns a recent Russian court decision which discriminates against LGBTI persons. The organisation is concerned that the court construed homosexuality as “extremist” behaviour and urges the Russian government to amend vague anti-extremism laws to prevent their misuse.”
Former England International Sol Campbell announced his retirement yesterday due to injury after a 20-year career playing for Tottenham, Arsenal, Portsmouth, Notts County and Portsmouth.
Although the married footballer constantly denied rumours surrounding his sexuality, this did not stop Campbell being the target of homophobic abuse – an issue previously covered by GSB. In fact, his brother John was jailed in 2005 for assaulting a man who questioned the 37 year-old’s sexuality.
Down to ten men after goalkeeper Jens Lehman was sent off early in the first half, it seemed only a matter of time before a Barcelona side featuring the likes of Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel E’to tore Arsenal apart in the 2006 Champions League Final. Campbell was charged with marshalling the Gunners’ defence to keep Frank Rijkaard’s men at bay.
A rare attack on the Barcelona goal resulted in a free-kick in a dangerous area for the men from north London. Thierry Henry whipped the ball across the box, and Sol’s head did the rest, putting his side ahead against the run of play. Two late Barca goals broke Gunners’ hearts, but for a moment Campbell had Arsenal fans believing.
Sol made his England debut in May 1996, as a substitute in the friendly against Hungary. A member of Terry Venables’ Euro 96 squad, Campbell was also selected for international duty at France 98, Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004 and Germany 2006 – becoming the first England player to be picked for six consecutive major international tournaments.
Sol’s defining moment in an England shirt came in the 1998 World Cup second-round match against Argentina. After David Beckham’s sending off England were forced to defend with ten men. But in injury time, Campbell headed what he thought was the winning goal, celebrated like he had won the World Cup, only to see his effort had been disallowed and Argentina had restarted play quickly and were attacking David Seaman’s goal. England later went out on penalties – but those 30 seconds summed up perfectly the experience of being an England fan.
Four years later, Campbell got his one and only England goal – netting in England’s 1-1 draw with Sweden in the 2002 World Cup. He was named in Fifa’s team of the tournament – recognising the best performances at the finals.
Captaining Portsmouth to FA Cup glory
After leaving Arsenal in 2006, Campbell signed a two-year deal with Portsmouth, then managed by Harry Redknapp. His finest hour in a Pompey shirt came when he captained the side in their FA Cup Final Victory over Cardiff in 2008, bringing european football, and matches against the likes of AC Milan to Fratton Park for the first time.
In the 2003/2004 season, Arsenal won the Premier League title. Their record: played 38, won 26, drawn 12, lost 0 – as they became the first team since the league was established in 1992 to go an entire season unbeaten. The Gunners owed a huge debt to the centre-back partnership Campbell established with Kolo Toure as they conceded just 26 goals all season. For his efforts, Campbell was named in the PFA team of the year.
Ignoring the abuse
In Summer 2001, Spurs captain Sol Campbell announced his decision to leave White Hart Lane at the end of his contract, making the short journey to Highbury to sign for north London rivals Arsenal on a free transfer. Campbell’s decision incensed Tottenham fans who labelled him a “judas”. The two clubs’ fixture at White Hart Lane became one of the early talking points of the 2001-2002 season. Campbell was booed by Tottenham fans from the moment he set foot on the pitch to warm-up, to the final whistle. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, but Campbell’s decision to join the Gunners was vindicated as they went on to win a League and FA Cup double in his first season at the club.
The 2012 Olympics will be the worlds biggest sporting event with over 14,000 athletes from 205 Olympic teams and 170 Paralympic teams coming to London to compete. Surely this would be the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about homophobia in sport?
Yet with less than 90 days to go until the start of London 2012 it appears that the LGB cause has slipped off the radar. The Pride House festival, meant to highlight the issue of homophobia in sport, has been cancelled and there are only a handful of openly gay athletes heading for London 2012.
In recent Olympics there have been few openly LGB athletes competing. At the Beijing Games there were only ten athletes, seven of whom took home medals. At the Athens Games in 2004 only eleven gay Olympians competed and in 2000 only seven openly gay athletes took part in the Sydney Games.
The Sydney Olympics appears to hold the answer to the problem. Since the games a further 24 athletes who competed have come out gay meaning that there actually was a total of more than 30 LGB athletes at the games. This points to the fact that athletes in a variety of sports still do not feel comfortable enough to be honest about their sexuality during their sporting careers.
London 2012 gives Britain the chance to lead the way in fighting homophobia in sport but once again the issue appears to be being swept under the carpet. So far, there are only six out athletes who appear to be heading for the London Games: French handballer Alexandra Lacrabère, French pentathlonist Florian Bou, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham, Australian volleyballer Natalie Cook, U.S. equestrian Guenter Seidel, and Marilyn Agliotti, a member of the Gold Medal winning Dutch Hockey team.
Only six competitors is a startlingly small number. However, I would suggest that this is a deceptive figure and that actually, as was the case in Sydney, the number of LGB heading to London will be significantly higher. I believe that many athletes are still not comfortable admitting their sexuality during their sporting careers. You would hope that in the 12 years since Sydney that the situation would have improved so that athletes no longer felt the need to hide in the closet. Unfortunately this does not seem to have been the case.
The cancellation of the Pride House festival is a huge blow to the Olympic LGB cause and means that there is now a risk that issue of homophobia in sport will not receive the attention it deserves. There needs to be an effort by Olympic organisers and the public to support the LGB athletes so that in future more competitors can come to the games openly rather than coming out after their careers have finished.
Matthew Mitcham - Australian Olympic Gold Medalist 2008 - Diving. (Photo Courtesy of: Philip Myers)