Homophobia in sports

Why LGBTQ+ athletes still struggle embracing their identities


Photo Courtesy of Outsports

Homophobia can be seen everywhere from shows, to movies, to even sports. For instance, on October 1, 2020, the San Diego Loyals soccer team walked off the field during a game because someone on the opposing team, Phoenix Rising, used homophobic slurs towards one of their players. What made it worse was that the Loyals winning the game remained irrelevant for the players. When they found out what had happened, they walked off of the field regardless alongside the referees. The victim of these homophobic slurs was the Loyals player Martin Collins, he had come out in 2018. The Loyals manager later released a statement saying that they would not stand for bigotry, homophobic slurs or anything remotely discriminatory.


Athletes in the LGBTQ+ community historically speaking, have had a very hard time coming out. Not only do they fear what their teammates will think, but also what their fans will say. And while yes, there are sometimes thoughtful and positive messages spread, a lot of the time, people use players’ sexuality as ammo for their hate speech. Fortunately, there are some teams that have been outspoken allies. For example, many Bay Area sports teams host pride nights, giving fans and players alike a place to celebrate love. 


In professional wrestling, there are around 35 people who have come out as part of the LGBTQ+ community. The first person to come out as a transgender female was Nyla Rose who inspired numerous other athletes to come out. Another famous athlete is Sonya Deville, who is the first pro-wrestler to come out as lesbian. In her first-ever appearance in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), she coordinated her whole outfit as rainbows. This act of bravery and pride allowed young people to see themselves represented in a community that they might have previously thought to be unwelcoming. 


However, there are still many closeted LGBTQ+ athletes who are scared to come out. The risks of judgment and brutality often force people to conceal their true selves. Homophobia is a huge issue, not just in sports but in the world and in order to stop hate, people must start to accept others and spread love. The time is now, the world is changing, this is an opportunity for sports teams and athletes to use their fame to bring acceptance to everyone.