Today Casey Stoney, England Women's Football (soccer) captain came out in an interview on the BBC website. It's not really a surprise or a big story, it's not a secret in the British women's football community. But it brings up interesting questions about the important difference between gay sportsmen and gay sportswomen. Sport is something our culture views as inherently masculine, women are derided when they are athletic.
We see hyper sexualisation of "feminine and pretty" sportswomen and derision of those who aren't. John Inverdale commented on Marion Bartoli after her 2012 Wimbledon Champion by saying "Do you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little 'You're never going to be a looker?", commenting that her dogged, tireless style of tennis is somehow connected to the fact that she isn't a 6 foot tall blonde Russian (not that there is anything wrong with being so).
Yet after the hypersexualisation of young female athletes we still have a culture that insinuates that those who aren't model pretty are gay.
It is accepted and acceptable that gay women play sport, (heard a joke about softball recently?) Two of the greatest female tennis players of all time are lesbians yet the only openly gay sportsmen I could name off the top of my head yesterday were retired (John Amaechi, Billy Bean and Thomas Hitzlsperger) or competed less manly sports (Matthew Mitcham and Tom Daley in Diving or Johnny Weir in Figure Skating).
This should be seen as a problem for everyone, the stereotype that being a sporty woman makes you gay or that being a sporty man means you can't be. It damages gay girls who want to play dress up and straight girls who want to play sport; it damages gay boys who want to be part of a team and it damages straight boys who can't throw.
Ok I've officially hit ramble. I'm just so pissed off by it, I'm sick of it. I've spent my life watching the England Women play football, being told they aren't as good as the men, they are all dykes and that men's sport is real sport. It's the same type of voices who say Michael Sam is a distraction and that American Football is a real man's game.