I don’t follow any sports. Never been the sporty type. Certainly not when I was in school, and not now. I suppose some people would think that’s typical of gay men. I suppose they would say that if they want to be hateful. But I’ve met some gay men who are into sports, at least as followers if not participating actively. Getting together with friends for a weekend football game, example.
To me that would make more sense. To call yourself a sports fan because you actually participate in the sport, even if only every other week. I don’t understand people who say they ‘follow’ sports, that they have a passion for that particular sport, even going so far as to call themselves a ‘die-hard’ fan. Are you really a sports fan if you’re just a spectator, even if you passionately root for a particular athlete or team? In Singapore for example, there are many who follow football, especially the English Premier League. And to a lesser extent I believe, the Singapore football league known as the S.League. But all these people, how many actually get together with friends or colleagues to play? The same goes for ‘followers’ of other sports like tennis, basketball, badminton, table tennis, cycling, etc…
Anyway, I’m touching the subject of sports because a Finn friend of mine recently related something to me which I found incredible and sad. That there are approximately 500,000 professional football players in the world, but out of those, how many are openly gay?
One. Yes, just one. Out of about half a million. The prejudice and discrimination in the sporting world is ruthless.
As if that is not terrible enough, how’s this to add to the blow… there used to be another guy openly gay as well but he ended up committing suicide in 1998, at the age of 37. His name is Justin Fashanu. I’ve only read a short article about him, written by his friend, and already I find his story heartbreaking. I’d like to find out more about Justin, an Englishman. I think this is a good place to start, The Justin Campaign.
As I found out from my friend, the one footballer openly gay today is Anton Hysén from Sweden, who is only 20 years old. I read from that too-brief Wikipedia page of his that his two elder brothers Tobias and Alexander are football players too. And in the excellent article about him in the sports blog of Tim Franks of the BBC, I also learned that his father is a former player, and till now is still very much involved in football as a coach and commentator. So Anton comes from a very sporty family, and not just any sport but one that is notorious with its prejudice against homosexuality. He’s incredibly courageous.
And, what a pleasant surprise that he’s furry, as shown in the following photo, on the cover of a gay magazine, no less. Truly a cool guy, showing other young gay guys that it’s way better-looking to let the fur be if you have it, instead of being all girly by getting your torso waxed. I first saw the photo on a blog called The State of the Nation U.K., by Stephen Chapman, which I happily discovered while doing a bit of surfing for info regarding Anton. I cannot wait to go back and read that blog. Looks very interesting.
*Photo Source: ‘attitude active‘ magazine