Sportsmen coming out seems to be the ‘thing’ lately. Its an important step, in my opinion, towards equality in every field of life. Enter Thomas Hitzlsperger- the 31 year old German footballer (soccer, for my fellow Americans) who, though very recently retired from the sport, made the announcement in the magazine Die Ziet on Wednesday.
From the article:
“I’m coming out about my homosexuality because I want to move the discussion about homosexuality among professional sportspeople forwards.” “Only in the last few years have I realized that I preferred living together with a man,” Hitzlsperger says. ”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.”
“I was never ashamed of how I am,” said Hitzlsperger, adding that the behavior of some of his teammates was sometimes hard to take. “Think about it. There are 20 young men sitting around a table drinking. You let most of it go, as long as the jokes are halfway funny and the rubbish about homosexuals is not hugely offensive.”
Some people are giving him flack for coming out after he retired, but it hardly matters really. Coming out post or pre retirement shouldn’t be the focus. The focus should undoubtedly be the encouragement of closeted sportsmen feeling comfortable enough to be who they are without hiding it, and that no one should have to sit on a bench listening to their peers make fun of, and judge, who they are- without those very peers knowing that behind faked laughter is fear and sadness.
I wonder how many of the sportsmen coming out recently have been encouraged to do so by the Sochi Olympics?