Homosexuality, Bisexuality and Sport

It just seemed like a normal Monday morning. I was sat in the living room, scrolling through Twitter on my IPod whilst Sky Sport News echoed in the background. Suddenly, I noticed from the corner of my eye the name ‘Tom Daley’ appear on the TV, and then again almost simultaneously on my Twitter feed, with a link. The caption with the link said “This is one of the most challenging things I have had to do…” Instantly the Sky Sports presenter introduces Tom Daley has come out via YouTube that he is seeing another guy.The video got millions of views, and the bronze medallist at London 2012 received support from many Twitter followers.

It takes courage to come out generally, but for a sports athlete, it seems to be ten times harder. Why? Are sportsman not allowed to be a homosexual or bisexual? Why are sportsman fearful about coming out? Will it affect their careers? Will they lose fans? How will the media respond? For me, it shows that we are a society that still judgmental about homosexuality.

For some fans, their perception of Tom Daley hasn’t changed, they still find him the same person. Attractive, talented and overall a good man with a good heart. And this has been reflected by the support for other sportsmen and women. Robbie Rodgers came out as a gay footballer after a spell with Stevenage, and many have respected and embraced him. He is currently playing for LA Galaxy and is cheered by the crowd whenever he takes to the pitch. Another gay sporting superstar to come out is tennis starlet Martina Navratilova, who won the singles woman’s Wimbledon title 9 times, but she has too been recieving high praise for her bravery to come out and is currently living life as a retired hero for young female tennis players.

However, some people have been abused since coming out. Justin Fashanu, who again was a footballer, tragically killed himself after years of abuse as he came out as the first gay footballer. Gavin Thomas, Welsh rugby union flanker has also suffered abuse after coming out. He was forced to retire after a serious injury suffered against England in 2011. This is what upsets me about our society. Over time it has progressively got better but only by a small fraction, and to be honest, there shouldn’t be a fear or even any discrimination against gays and bisexuals.

In other ways of life such as acting and music, being homosexual or bisexual isn’t as big a deal. Why? How can different professions affect how the public react? It’s a joke. I guess the only atmosphere close to sport and its difficulties to accept sexuality is school. It’s just as tough perhaps tougher to come out as a teenage boy nearing the end of secondary education or sixth form then a sportsman.

Many believe that they think sports athletes find it tough to come out due to the fact stereotypical sportsmen/women are strong and straight. Some think it’s that if they come out, it will affect how they are treated at a club or in a team. This is the wrong way to go. Tom Daley has shown how it should be done. He has done it in his own comfort, without sadness or pressure. He also thanked the support he received, which shows how he and his fans connect and interact positively.

No one should ever feel like they have to hide their sexuality, whether they are from sport or any other industry. We are all equal.

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