Robert Hampton

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14th September 2012

Good sport
Posted by at 8.32pm | 2 responses | Gay

Attitude Magazine October 2011The October issue of Attitude magazine plopped through my letterbox today (it’s in shops next week). They are celebrating Team GB’s success at the Olympics with a special cover featuring five British Olympians and their six-packs.

The perceived wisdom is that homosexuality and sport are mutually exclusive. This magazine feature is the latest sign that this long-held stereotype is breaking down. Elsewhere, we have rubgy star Ben Cohen running an anti-bullying charity specifically targeting LGBT youth and Liverpool FC sending a delegation to Liverpool Pride this year.

Despite these positive developments, high-profile openly gay sportspeople are few and far between. Of the 11,000 athletes at this year’s Olympics, only 22 were ‘out’ – among them, Team GB dressage gold medallist Carl Hester and Australia’s lovely Matthew Mitcham.

If the statistic that between 5% and 10% of the population is gay is correct, there must be many more athletes out there hiding their sexuality. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if the percentage of gay people in sport was less than that in society as a whole. Many people’s love of sports is first nurtured in school (not me, I was a fat bastard who preferred the tranquillity of the computer room). Schools are a hostile environment for many gay teens; the changing room with its atmosphere of machismo and testosterone especially so. How many potential sports stars gave up at a young age, after deciding that the hassle and abuse wasn’t worth it?

Society is changing, and the next generation of up-and-coming athletes may find themselves in a much better position. However, reading stories like this one, about a German footballer afraid to come out because of his fears of a hostile reaction, you realise how far we still have to go.

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2 Responses
  1. Comment by Jamie
    14th September 2012 at 8:42 pm

    The number is clearly higher: remember that Grindr crashed due to the number of connections being made in east London on the day the athletes arrived.

    As for bullying of gay children (I was a victim of this), I support on a Direct Debit each month. They’re working to introduce children who think they’ve never met a gay person to successful, happy gay people. It’s great, valuable work.

  2. Comment by Robert Hampton
    15th September 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Not sure how accurate that Grindr story was – it was originally reported in the People, after all.

    The lack of role models is a big issue and precisely why gay people in any field of public life should stand up and be counted. Gay kids need to know they’re not alone in the world.