January 26, 2022

Homophobia in sport, a scourge to fight

In October, Australian footballer Josh Cavallo revealed his homosexuality, a few months after several renowned French sportsmen. Proof that mentalities are evolving in an environment still too governed by stereotypes.

On the screen, faces and confessions parade. A sum of “coming out” like the top French sport had never known. And heavy. Champions covered with titles who admit having lived their homosexuality clandestinely throughout their career so as not to be or feel excluded. Because in the sports world, this kind of revelation still goes very badly. Too bad.

Swimmer Jérémy Stravius, skater Kevin Aymoz, rugby player Jérémy Clamy-Edroux, fencer Astrid Guyart, judoka Amandine Buchard and basketball player Céline Dumerc, mostly Olympic medalists, created the event in the documentary We need to talk, last June on Canal +.

Thomas, ex-Toulousain (2004-2007).

Gareth Thomas: “A liberation”

Welsh rugby legend, the first to exceed the 100 caps, Gareth Thomas revealed his homosexuality in 2009, just after his career, which earned him the admiration of some but also hatred, to the point of being savagely assaulted by a teenager.

The reasons for this public declaration? “The lie, living in fear weighed on me, to the point of impacting my sanity.” After several suicide attempts, Gareth realized the obvious: “I had to take back control of my life and for that, people had to know my story. I want to be recognized as an athlete but not in office. about my sexuality. Talking was a liberation. “

Thomas always fights against discrimination because “in sport as in life, the greatest quality is honesty”.

Their only requirement was to speak collectively, ensuring that their identity was not revealed before the broadcast. Many of them are still active, which is the strength of the testimonies because most of the coming out occurs after careers.

“They are afraid of the reactions of those around them, their coach, their teammate, summarizes Arnaud Bonnin, one of the two directors, recently present at the conference organized on the subject by COREVIH Occitanie. They also fear losing sponsors, an impact on their performance. “

In this film, the journalists wanted “to cross a course with sportsmen in activity, Olympic medalists for many”, confirms Lyes Houhou, the other director. “Five years ago, it would not have been possible but mentalities are changing.”

Multiplication of “refuge” clubs

Not fast enough, no doubt, in an environment still too governed by stereotypes. “There are differentiated values ​​from one discipline to another but sport as a whole conveys hetero-normativity”, confirms Sylvain Ferez, Montpellier sociologist specializing in sport, who illustrates his point with these non-targeted insults: “We still hears talk on certain fields of “fagot shots” even if it is now penalized. “

For the researcher, changing mentalities starts with the choice and training of supervisors: “We have the educators we deserve. We have to train them in the field to spot events, to understand what social relationships children build when they are they make fun of.”

Jean-Bernard Moles.

Jean-Bernard Moles.

Rugby is transforming

When he was reelected at the head of the FFR last year, Bernard Laporte wanted to make the fight against discrimination a strong focus of his new mandate. He asked Montpellier Jean-Bernard Moles to take over an anti-discrimination commission with extended powers.

The latter was thus responsible for putting in place rules which allow players who have changed their gender to enter FFR competitions.

“Transgender people can be issued a license provided they meet a few conditions for fairness: certifying their change in marital status, hormonal treatment followed for at least a year, a testosterone level below 10 nanomoles per liter (*) “, explains the Montpellier resident.

Prevent inclusion from turning into exclusion

The committee retains the power to deal on a case-by-case basis, especially in the event of an exceptional size which could present a risk, in particular for the players. “We must not do anything because we already have a lot of insurance problems with concussions,” concedes Jean-Bernard Moles.

“We’re a bit of a pioneer and it’s complicated in a contact sport like ours, but we hope to pave the way for other disciplines like basketball.”

The idea is to do things in a reasoned way so as not to fall into excesses which “would transform inclusion into exclusion, as we have seen in American university competitions”.

Jean-Bernard Moles gives the example of a hope from Mont-de-Marsan who became an elite female athlete 1 in Lons. An open-mindedness from which certain more mediatized disciplines could be inspired.

At the Olympic Games, the standard is 5 nanomoles per liter.

While waiting for this great revolution in mentalities, refuge clubs have emerged, here and there. Véronica Noseda thus created the Dégommeuses, a football club “for lesbians and transgender people because the locker room can be a place of discrimination, even unconscious”.

In Toulouse, the Tou’Win omnisports association welcomes people who have never dared to participate in team sport because of their sexual orientation. “We do not ask them to display it but the difference with a classic club is that they can talk about it”, explains Cyril Broccardo, the president.

By creating a commission to integrate transgender players in its championships, rugby has made much more progress on the subject than football. The National League had signed a charter against homophobia in 2009 and once a year flocks its jerseys in LGBT colors to give a good conscience.

But after ? “Football has not taken this question head on,” confirms Arnaud Bonnin. When the president of the FFF, Noël Le Graët, himself affirms “one does not stop a match for a homophobic song”, it says a lot about the way remaining to be covered.