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04/19/2007


Hey Coach Jason Kreis! New York Wants A Gay Soccer Player!

Jason_kreisBY DAVID MIXNER

By 2015, New York City will have a new major league soccer team owned by the famous Manchester City. This will be the second in the area with the New Jersey Bulls playing in Harrison, New Jersey. In an announcement this month, the New York City FC presented Jason Kreis (right) as the new coach for the franchise. Now the process of picking the players and ironing out the logistics of where the team will play in NYC.

Kreis has an incredible opportunity to break the glass ceiling here in New York City. The Big Apple has never had an openly gay player in any of its major male sports franchises. While the Los Angeles Galaxy has snapped up out athlete Robbie Rogers and former World Cup German player Thomas Hitzlsperger (below) recently came out of the closet, the time has come for Major League Soccer to embrace the momentum and show the rest of the leagues the way.

T_hitzlspergerOne can't help but wonder what would happen to Hitzlsperger if he was still playing. After the Russians host the Olympics, they will be hosting the World Cup in 2018 and that will be followed by one in Qatar.

In a Guardian/Observer editorial after the German player's coming out, the paper stated:

Now, everyone agrees that a footballer's sexuality should not be a big deal in 2014, but FIFA's response still felt a little casual. Enthusiastically backing Hitzlsperger seemed like an open goal for the organisation, particularly with its recent patchy record on gay rights. The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia, which has introduced laws to ban gay "propaganda"; four years later, the tournament moves to Qatar, where homosexuality is still punished with a prison sentence.

There is genuine speculation that players and spectators will be vetted by a Kuwaiti-engineered "gay test" in 2022. When Sepp Blatter, the Clouseau-esque president of Fifa, was asked in 2010 about the issue, he smiled and suggested that homosexual football fans would just have to "refrain from sexual activity" in Qatar. Pushed further last June, he deflected: "What you are speaking about… this is going into ethics and morals." But venturing into these thorny areas is exactly what Fifa should be doing. After years of punishing racism with ineffectual fines, Blatter recently suggested he would be getting tough: deducting points from clubs, eliminating them from competitions. Why should homophobia be any different?

KreisThe Wall Street Journal reports on the new franchise in New York City:

"As he goes about building his first NYCFC side, Kreis will have the enviable resources of Manchester City at his disposal, including a 36-strong scouting team—14 of whom are, significantly, in South America—and the option to loan players from the Manchester City development system. But he will still need all of his powers of good housekeeping as he negotiates the MLS salary cap and a rule book that forces a competitive parity his new bosses are unfamiliar with."

The time has come for New York City to get ahead of the game! With a 36 member scouting team, surely New York City FC should be able to find one great gay soccer player. Really, it can't be that difficult. Coach Kreis has not only the opportunity to make history in New York City but to build a powerful new fan base for his club.

For heaven's sake, don't make New Yorkers go to the stadium and cheer Los Angeles Galaxy because we have no openly gay soccer player in New York. Can you imagine, Sir, how hard that will be for us?

Do the right thing from day one of this club and find a top notch openly gay player that will lead our team to victory, fill the stands with new fans and make all New Yorkers proud to wear that player's jersey.

Watch the press conference announcing Kreis as coach, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Hey Coach Jason Kreis! New York Wants A Gay Soccer Player!" »


Gays Face Backlash in Germany

Germany

Conservatives campaign to stop gay sex education amid celebrations for a gay soccer player's coming out.

BY JASON OVERDORF / GlobalPost

BERLIN, Germany — German athletes will sport rainbow-colored uniforms at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month in a move widely interpreted as a protest against Russia’s crackdown against gay rights.

Although some see it as part of the country’s redoubled efforts to be perceived as a leader in gay rights following Moscow’s recent enactment of an anti-gay law, the recent coming-out of a gay German soccer player has drawn new attention to problems that still face gays and lesbians at home, which suggest the real picture is more complex.

T_hitzlspergerWhen former professional player Thomas Hitzelsperger announced that he was gay last week, he was almost universally celebrated in the German press.

But rumors persisted that his coach dissuaded him from making the announcement until he retired — while the European championships were underway — suggesting that German soccer fans, at least, haven’t fully accepted the idea of gay players.

“The rejoicing sounded suspiciously self-serving and smug,” Der Spiegel observed. “'We are so amazingly liberal that we can even get excited about a gay professional football player,' the message seemed to be.”

James Gardner, a gay American living in Berlin with his German husband, sees cynical politics in the new enthusiasm for gay rights.

“The whole issue of homosexuality is so politicized right now,” he says. "We have this Cold War happening on the gay front," he says, referring to the unspoken divides in Germany on homosexuality, "this Cold Gay War.”

Moves by the Catholic Church in the state of Baden-Würtenburg to ban sex-education classes from teaching students about homosexuality — even though there’s no sign the public school system will be teaching anything of the kind — suggest that in Germany, as in the US, ordinary people remain deeply divided over the issue, says Carolyn Gammon, a Canadian lesbian married to a German woman.

“I'd like to say that it's two steps forward, one step back,” she says. “But it's more like 1.1 steps forward, one step back.”

Recent polls suggest 65 percent of Germans favor full equality for homosexuals, according to Renate Rampf, spokeswoman for the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany, the country's largest non-profit gay rights organization.

That means one in every three Germans believes gays and lesbians aren’t entitled to equal treatment, which leaves fertile ground for evangelical Christians and Catholics who vehemently oppose certain rights for homosexuals.

Merkel“Even Chancellor [Merkel] has said that she has a bad feeling when it comes to the issue of gays adopting children,” Rampf said in an email.

Germany recognized domestic partnerships for gays and lesbians in 2001. Three years later, gay and lesbian couples in legal partnerships were allowed to adopt children.

But some less contentious rights — such as tax equality for same-sex partnerships and heterosexual marriages — have been slow in coming. And numerous attempts to legalize gay marriage have failed to pass in successive parliaments led by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union.

Gays and lesbians confront similar contradictions in daily life.

When Gardner was an openly gay student at an elite private school, he says, his peers accepted his sexuality.

But Gammon says even in her liberal Berlin neighborhood of Kreuzberg, “schwule” or “gay” is the most common insult in her son's schoolyard.

“Our child is now going through this system,” she says, “and he's never had a single thing that's gay-positive.”


Semi-Pro UK Footballer Liam Davis Comes Out as Gay

Davis

Earlier this week, retired Premier League footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger came out of the closet, and he has apparently inspired others to follow suit.

Gainsborough Trinity winger Liam Davis came out of the closet publicly on Saturday in an interview in the Lincolnshire Echo:

“I personally hope that over the next 10 years I’m not the only gay footballer out there. Nobody wants to be forced out, but I hope they can look and see there is someone out there who has done it. I hope we can get to a stage where it is not a bad thing, that there is no problem and people just get on with it.”

Davis, who says he has been out to friends and family and his team over the summer after they asked about him, also owns a restaurant, the Point Café and Bar in Cleethopres, with his partner Neil.

Says Davis:

“My partner and I work in the same place and it will probably come across that we are a couple. But people do not walk out of our restaurant because of that. They come in for some good food and good service. It should be the same in football. I should be able to picked, or not picked, on merit, not because of my sexuality. You are there to play and do a good job for your team.”

Read the full lengthy interview HERE.

Watch a video interview with Davis shot back in May when he joined his current team, AFTER THE JUMP...

(via outsports)

Continue reading "Semi-Pro UK Footballer Liam Davis Comes Out as Gay" »


Robbie Rogers Applauds Premiere League Star Thomas Hitzlsperger for Coming Out: VIDEO

Robbie_rogers

LA Galaxy player Robbie Rogers applauds former Premier League star Thomas Hitzlsperger's coming out, in a commentary in The Guardian:

HitzlspergerI've been fortunate enough to return to the game, this time as an out and proud gay man, knowing full well that my actions could be of help to another young Robbie Rogers, whether his first love is soccer or science or fashion or all of the above. As I've been writing my memoirs this past year, I've thought a lot about the experience of growing up gay, keeping that secret, and the scars it leaves behind.

For me, and I imagine most gay and lesbian people, it's as if that frightened 12-year-old child is still there inside you. When we see men like Thomas make this announcement, it helps to heal the scared gay kid that still resides in each of us, remembering how alone we felt. But we were never really alone. And it helps me to know that someone I watched and admired as a boy was just like me when he was out there competing on the field. I would say that I can't imagine what a difficult decision it was for Thomas to come out publicly – but I can easily imagine. In fact it is the most terrifying thing I have ever done.

It always feels funny when people congratulate me for coming out, because they're congratulating me for simply telling the truth. But at a moment like this, my first thought is to congratulate Thomas. To thank him for taking the risk, for himself and for all the people who will be helped and inspired by his brave act. We can only hope that by joining the conversation, he can help move it forward.

Congratulations, Thomas. I hope this helps you find the same peace I was fortunate to find by sharing my truth.

In related news, Rogers, Brittney Griner, and Blake Skjellerup are featured in a new CNN International program "Journey of the Gay Athlete" which airs Saturday.

Watch the promo, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Robbie Rogers Applauds Premiere League Star Thomas Hitzlsperger for Coming Out: VIDEO" »


German Pro Footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger: I'm Gay

T_hitzlsperger

Retired 31-year-old German footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has become the most high-profile European footballer to come out of the closet, telling German newspaper Die Zeit that he's gay and wants to talk publicly to raise awareness about homosexuality among professional athletes, the Guardian reports:

Said Hitzlesperger: "It's been a long and difficult process. Only in the last few years have I realised that I preferred living together with a man."

He added:

In England, Italy and Germany being a homosexual is no big thing, at least not in the dressing room...I was never ashamed of being who I am but it was not always easy to sit on a table with 20 young men and listen to jokes about gays. You let them get on with it as long as the jokes are somewhat funny and not too insulting...Being gay is topic that is 'ignored' in football and not 'a serious topic in the changing room'. Fighting spirit, passion and winning mentality are intrinsically linked, that doesn't fit the cliché: 'Gays are soft'."

The Guardian notes that Hitzlsperger played in the German national team 52 times including in a World Cup and European Championship, and retired just four months ago.

The BBC notes that Hitzlsperger is just the fourth footballer to come out:

In February 2013, former United States and Leeds United winger Robbie Rogers said he was gay.

Swedish lower league player Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool player Glenn Hysen, publicly announced his homosexuality in an interview with a Swedish football magazine in 2011.

And in 1990, former England Under-21 international Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to reveal he was gay. He took his own life eight years later, aged 37.


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