Gay rugby icon Gareth Thomas wants to see all the gay rugby players in Manchester in 2012, and would love it if you would help out.
Gareth Thomas Hub
It seems like soccer fans in Europe care more about the way the sport is played than who plays in the games themselves. So says a new research study in the UK:
"In a survey of 3,000 people published by the University of Staffordshire, eight out of 10 supporters said gay players would have a positive effect on the sport, comparable to how the influx of black players helped the games tackle racism in the 1980s and 1990s."
"'One fan told us: 'I'd rather have a gay player who can play than a straight one who can't.' And this is a typical view, not just from supporters but from everyone associated with football,' said Ellis Cashmore, professor of culture, media and sport at the University, in the Observer newspaper."
About half of those questioned could see a positive impact from a well-known player's coming out, comparing him to Gareth Thomas, who came out at the peak of his rugby career.
The Guardian reports: "Of those football fans questioned in the research, more than 52% believe the greatest cause for a change in attitudes in the game would be a Gareth Thomas-type player coming out. A campaign backed by leading players was also considered by almost 31% to be influential."
One respondent in the study believes an openly gay footballer could be win-win for the player: "He could make a lot of money [as] the first gay footballer....when football joins the 21st century."
The actual first player in the sport to publicly come out was Justin Fashanu who did so in 1990. He sadly took his own life eight years later.
Mickey Rourke has met with openly gay rugby star Gareth Thomas in hopes of portraying him in a biopic, Wales on Sunday reports:
"The actor got in touch with the Crusaders star after reading about his life story and deciding he was 'the perfect model' for a film, the player’s management have revealed. The managers of both The Wrestler star and the Bridgend-born 35-year-old are now trying to thrash out a deal to get a movie of the life of Wales’ most-capped international onto the big screen. The pair met for the first time last week at the filming of Jonathan Ross’ last BBC chat show, where Rourke was a guest. A spokesman for Thomas’ management company told Wales on Sunday: 'Mickey Rourke is a big rugby fan and was flying to New York from London recently when he read an article about Gareth and thought he would be the perfect model for a film. Mickey contacted Gareth directly via a mutual friend in rugby league to express his interest and invited Gareth to watch the Jonathan Ross show and to meet him for dinner afterwards.' Oscar-nominated actor Rourke, 57 – who is a trained boxer – is believed to have been keen to do a film about rugby for some time. But before discovering Thomas’ story he was not sure about how to find an angle for the project."
In an apparent response to Lord Browne's essay in The Guardian this past Thursday, the paper takes on the coming out of high-profile figures and wants to know if revealing your homosexuality is a "career killer." While being gay has become "a non-issue" for politicians (at least those in the UK), many people in sports and entertainment have remained closeted until they've reached a certain level of success and even then those are few and far between. Ricky Martin and Gareth Thomas are both used as examples.
Attitude magazine editor Andrew Todd: "I think that if Ricky Martin had come out in 1999, I don't think he would have had the career that he has had. In Hollywood, there is still a message that you can't be gay."
Some athletes, such as openly gay former professional basketball player John Amaechi, are now suggesting that pro ballers should not even be pressured to come out of the closet. Amaechi told the Manchester Evening News:
“I get into trouble sometimes with the gay community by saying it is not the job of sports stars in the closet to come out. That is not how change happens. For an under-prepared and psychologically stunted individual who plays sports at a high level to come out before they are ready is like being born prematurely. Unequivocally, being out is better than staying in, but those who do come out need support.”
When speaking to The Guardian, he expanded upon those thoughts:
"I wish the environment was such that more people felt they could come out. It's absolutely amazing to me that some people think that not coming out is a weakness of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people, whereas instead it's because of a hostile culture. It's never the responsibility of the minority to make the majority change."
While it may not be the responsibility of the minority, sometimes the minority has no choice but to take on that responsibility.
Related, Amaechi has just become a patron LGBT History month in the UK which will be observed in February.
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Image from here.
London Pride attracted about a million people Saturday to watch around 150 floats make their way from Baker Street to Trafalgar Square. Pro-gay Christian groups were among them, as were Conservative MP Nick Herbert and Liberal Democrat Equality Minister Lynne Featherstone, the latter of whom recently suggested the UK is on the verge of religious unions that would resemble marriage.
Herbert addressed the need for gay representation in government:
"I'm a gay man, I'm an out politician and I'm a member of parliament. In the last parliament, we had just a handful of out gay MPs. Now we have 15 out gay MPs who are mostly Conservatives. We also have two lesbians but we need to make sure there are more. Next week, a child will be bullied in school because he or she is gay. Next week, a player will be abused from the terraces because he or she is gay. Next week, a person will be a victim of a hate attack because he or she is gay. We cannot allow that to go on."
Lesbian MP Angela Eagle was the most senior Labour representative, but she did not speak.
Out Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas (who won't be playing for a while due to a weekend injury) encouraged attendees to wear "with pride" the new gay-pride pin created by the organizing committee of the 2012 Olympics. It looks a bit like something alarming is eating a rainbow flag, but anything for LGBT visibility. Get yours today.
A personal account of London Pride is here.