How can we, ourselves, put an end to homophobia in professional sports?
Homophobia in Sexuality and Sports
The subject of sexuality, specifically homosexuality is a growing concern in society today as the issue continues to gain popularity when an athlete announces they are coming out. Gay and lesbian people are all around us, whether it be in the workplace, educational institutes, and specifically, athletics. Coaches, players and teammates have become aware of the double standard and homophobia that exist in the heterosexual world.
Homophobia plays a vital role in the relation between homosexuality and sports. It has a great impact toward an athlete’s aspect of life such as their professional career, family and interaction with the team and coach. However, as gay and lesbian people are shut out suffering in silence, heterosexual people are often afraid to be labeled gay if they acknowledge that homophobia is an issue. Females in particular face a double standard life having to defend their heterosexuality so that they won’t be fit in the stereotype as a “masculine” woman. As females are forced to be feminine in professional sports, WNBA commercials and advertising always depict the athletes in a lady-like fashion. In contrast, popular male athletes are questioned about their sexual preference due to being un-married or who don’t always have a girl by their side to defend their sexual identity. For instance, former quarterback of the Cowboys, Troy Aikman was constantly asked about his sexual identity reason being he was un-married.
Another professional athlete, Mike Piazza, a former baseball player was also questioned being homosexual for the same reason that he was un-married.
Magic Johnson explained to the press about his health concern and admitted having HIV, but he stated he is not gay, just because HIV is stereotyped as a homosexual disease.
As athletes are constantly questioned in the media about their sexual preference, there are other athletes feared to come out publicly due to the many obstacles stopping them. First of all, alienation from a sports team is caused by a teammate’s masculinity being threatened. It often results to separation of a team or coaching staff. How a coaching staff may be involved is if he/she was openly gay towards his/her players. This however might affect the coach’s difficulty on recruiting players as well as the comfort level of the player’s parents by getting them to agree to leave their child with an openly gay coach. Secondly, as Lebron James commented on the issue of homosexuality, he quoted that “with teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you’re gay and not admitting who you are, you are not trustworthy.” To summarize what Lebron James said, people must confidently tell others you trust about your sexual preferences or they will not be able to be supportive. Therefore, many teammates would not be totally okay if another teammate was to come out openly gay.
In conclusion, most female athletes are forced to defend their sexuality for fear of being described as a lesbian. In contrast with male athletes, they are constantly questioned through the media based on their marital status whether or not they are homosexual and also need to protect their sexuality for fear of being portrayed as gay. Fortunately, supporting athletes have spoken out against homophobia in the form of coming out.
"unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality." (Dictionary.com, 2015)