December 22, 2009

The locker room closet

You would think with all sorts of gay leagues in various sports these days, from rugby to the Gay Games, being gay in your sport isn't a big deal. But apparently it is, since it has taken 18 years for Gareth Thomas to come out to his sport and fans.
Not being a sportsperson myself I have no idea how hard the pressure is in teams to conform to the current macho norm, which in fashion terms is as much a variable feast as a catwalk is: the yesteryear imagery of a top sportsman can look very camp now. Will you just look a those short shorts in 1970s American basketball compared to the bloomers they wear today. And then there were the mullets and blow dry hairdos on an assortment of rugby and soccer players, eagerly adopted these days by retrosexuals.

The one thing that struck me about his story were his visits to London gay clubs when on tour. The fact that no-one on the scene sold their kiss-and-tell story to the tabloid newspapers is a credit to the gay community. I'm not sure whether that is because there is no interest in outing gay rugby players (unlike when they actually come out themselves), or that no gay man who picked him up actually recognised him or knew who he was. I suspect it would be a very different story had he been a premier league football player, judging by the even bigger closet and homophobia in soccer (despite its nancy-kissy-touchy-feely antics on the field).

But anyway, Gareth, welcome home.


Peter said...

I'm not a sportsperson myself but always wondered why sports had to be hetero only.

Sport is for all, it doesn't matter if you're ho, he or bi. And if it has to do with looking at cock in the showers... hetero's check them out themselfs too.

Paul said...

Re the fact that the London scene kept quiet about it: I've seen Internet postings saying that his sexuality had been an open secret in South Wales for several years. Maybe no-one thought it was newsworthy.

libhom said...

Rugby looks so much like gay sex. I suspect the entire sport is defensive, given societal heterosexism.

robinnisfail said...

That sounds more like the US, where the fascist far right religions run the country, rather than New Zealand! I had always thought the people of NZ were far more liberal with their thoughts, even more so than here in Aussie.

Mark said...

I suspect rugby has less of a problem with the homo thing than soccer - precisely because it's such a physical, Spartan/boarding school game. You can't really afford to be sissy about other men's bits in a scrum or on the fields of Ilyium.

If there is any point at all to soccer it seems to be to prove you're not a poof.

Someone needs to tell today's footballers: it's not working lads.