Queer Corner: Playing With Balls

 

 

Evan Tomlinson Weintraub

A male varsity team is more selective than a fraternity, and their brotherhood is probably stronger. These boys go through hell for one another. They play with broken bones and pulled or strained muscles. They “bro out” harder than anyone I know. However, they’re perceived to be as straight as they come and just as homophobic. So the real question is, how did some gay kid, let alone a civilian, make his way into the varsity lacrosse community? How does someone like me end up living with two players from the team as roommates? There’s a stigma when it comes to high-level sports. Professional athletes are supposed to be as straight as they come. Straight boys are athletic, competitive and manly, which are attributes that sissy gay boys do not have. Gay boys are supposed to be the cheerleaders or not in­volved with sports whatsoever. Walk into any painter’s stu­dio or fashion school and stereotypically you’d expect to find the male population to be 90 percent flaming out of their mind

There have been incidents in the news over the past couple of years that have dealt with this issue: Los Ange­les Lakers’s Kobe Bryant getting fined for calling a referee a ‘f***ing faggot’ and Philadelphia Eagles’s DeSean Jackson re­sponding to a fan during a radio show with “Say ‘no homo,’ gay-ass. Faggot.” Yes, there has been a lot of scrutiny of the professional athlete world when it comes to discrimination against the LGBTQ community; but it promotes this ma­chismo and supreme straightness. Athletes live in a world where having sex with women is expected, because if you’re a professional, you must be the epitome of man. You’re supposed to be that guy, the one who hates on those who don’t fit into that community because they’re too weak. Gay boys live on the fringes. They have yet to enter the public realm of professional sports, possibly for two reasons. These stereotypes are correct in that homosexual men are not as fueled by testosterone and aren’t as skilled or competitive, or because they don’t want to enter this world of pressure to conform in a world where homophobic and unsettling words are thrown around like rice at a wedding. It’s this at­mosphere that seems to instill a sense of rejection of anyone outside of this community. I can only imagine that, while the professional world is such a specific community, these sentiments and beliefs hold true for the world of collegiate sports and even high school sports.

What does me ranting about how sports are homophobic have anything to do with living with lacrosse players? Noth­ing much, but now you can understand where I’m com­ing from when people get confused when I tell them I live with two of them. They have these preconceptions of sports and the boys who play them. Straight men associate with straight men. They go to bars and drink beer; they bro out. And that bond is only strengthened on a sports team. So a gay boy working his way into this close-knit, athletic and straight community is a stereotypical anomaly.

I write this article because I’m impressed with the la­crosse team. I have basically bum-rushed them into ac­cepting me into this team dynamic. I am rooming with two of their teammates and lax boys drop in at any time to chat with them. I’ve decorated my room with rainbow flags and a poster of the hottest man I know of so it’s pretty clear which team I play for. And as of yet, I have not received one dirty look, or one instance where I felt uncomfortable or ignored around them. I can come to their parties. I can ‘bro out’ with them as long as I can get a handle on their language (Anyone know what “sliding” is?). As time goes on, I feel like I’m becoming a friend to them as a guy. And it’s not because of my sexuality or my athletic ability.

Living with members of the lacrosse team has shown me that this stigma has no weight. It’s something that fans have made up and have perpetuated. They’re the ones who pay to see hulking straight men beat the living crap out of each other in the most heterosexual way possible. They’re the ones that believe that anyone who’s fragile or effeminate can’t pack a punch, can’t beat the crap out of someone twice their size. They don’t want to see the gay boy beat up their heroes because that would decrease the manliness that that player exudes. It’s time to stop being blinded by this illusion. The manliest man may be your gay best friend.

Contact Evan Tomlinson Weintraub

at [email protected]