Gay slurs damaged his career

leseux2.jpgThe London Times published an excerpt from a book by former English soccer player Graeme Le Saux on how the perception of him being gay almost wrecked his career.

Because I had different interests, because I didn’t feel comfortable in the laddish drinking culture that was prevalent in English football in the late 1980s, it was generally assumed by my teammates that there was something wrong with me. It followed, naturally, that I must be gay.

For 14 years I had to listen to that suggestion repeated in vivid and forthright terms from thousands of voices in the stands. It was a lie. I am not gay and never have been, yet I became a victim of English football’s last taboo.

The homophobic taunting and bullying left me close to walking away from football. I went through times that were like depression. I did not know where I was going. I would get up in the morning and would not feel good and by the time I got into training I would be so nervous that I felt sick. I dreaded going in. I was like a bullied kid on his way to school to face his tormentors. ...

The gay slurs were putting me in a difficult situation. It was hard to keep denying that I was homosexual without being disrespectful to the gay community. I have gay friends and I do not judge them. I am not homophobic; a gay player in a team I was playing for would not be an issue for me.

But when supporters and other players accused me of being gay, it bothered me. I never believed there was anything wrong with being gay, but I felt that if it came to be accepted that I was, I would be unable to continue as a professional footballer. That is how deep-seated the prejudice in the game is.

His comments reflect the damage homophobia and the cult of masculinity can cause in sports, even for those who are not gay. (Hat tip to a reader for this item) --Jim Buzinski

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