Lance Parker of FC Edmonton is something like Clark Kent, with two "professional identities." One is that of professional soccer player; Formerly with Major League Soccer, Parker now plays in the North American Soccer League. His season debut with FC Edmonton is April 7. Parker is also a burgeoning model whose face and body can be found across the Internet and in print, largely courtesy of photographer Scott Teitler. We caught up with Parker to talk with him about gay fans, gay teammates, and the rigors of modeling.
Outsports: I first came across your name on a gay Web site. Then another. It seems you've built quite a following among gay men. How do you feel about that?
Lance Parker: I am happy that I have been able to grow a fan base that appreciates my soccer and modeling, regardless of who they are.
How long have you been a model? How did you get your start?
I have been modeling for only a couple of years now, on and off. It all started one day at the airport when I was flying out for a soccer game and was approached by someone that told me I had nice legs. My first thought was that they were just creeping on me, but then we got to talking for a bit. They had some people that they wanted me to meet regarding modeling, and so we exchanged information. I was thinking that they probably told this to just about everyone they ran into, but I figured, what's the worst that could come from it. Whenever I was back from the trip, they got in contact with me, we met up, and the next day I was with a modeling agency. I never really saw myself modeling, but I was happy that I had a way to bring in some extra income. And although I don't ever really have time to model during my soccer season, it has become something that I really enjoy doing whenever I have some off time.
The vast majority of pro athletes in America would never do underwear or speedo photo shoots. Why do you think that is?
I think it all has to do with just being comfortable in your own skin, and also your surroundings. When I first started modeling, I was a bit uneasy about it, but the more I did it, and the more practice I had, the more comfortable and confident I became. While some guys would never even consider doing a photo shoot, I bet a vast majority of players would consider it if they were put in a comfortable environment and had enough self confidence in the way that they would look in the pictures.
Do you do anything differently when you model? We hear of guys dehydrating themselves right before a shoot. Is that one reason it's hard to model during the season?
The main reason that it is hard to model during the season is because many shoots last anywhere from 1-3 full days. Seeing how I have a practice or game almost every day during the soccer season, it makes it very difficult to have time for a shoot since I cannot be at it all day long.
Also, you usually have to fly to a different city for the shoot, and that takes an extra day as well. There are definitely different things I have to do when I am modeling, as oppose to playing soccer. While I am playing soccer, I have a bit more leniency on what I can eat. Also, since I have to be extremely explosive and strong to be a goal keeper, the way I train is different. When I am not playing soccer and just modeling, I have to focus on my diet a lot more, and my workouts change. During this time I need my body to look good, and not necessarily have the strength that I normally would during soccer season. All show, and no go. As for guys dehydrating themselves when they model, some do, but I choose not to. You can look a little extra cut and shredded out, but it is terrible for your body.
Have you gotten teased about it by teammates?
Haha, yes. I had done a pretty good job about keeping my modeling a secret from most everyone except for my family and close friends, until this past year. A few of my teammates were looking around on the computer, and when they searched my name, a bunch of my modeling pictures came up. The cat's out of the bag! A few days later, I came into the locker room to find some of those pictures, blown up to poster size, hanging up on the walls of the main room and showers. It was all in good fun though, and we all had a laugh.
Why are you so comfortable with it?
Like I said earlier, it took some time for me to become comfortable and confident in front of the camera. I think it is like any other thing that you do. The more that you practice that certain craft, the better you will become at it.
Have you ever played on a team with an openly gay player?
No, I have never been a part of a team where I had an openly gay teammate.
How do you think your current team would accept an openly gay teammate?
All of my teammates are really great guys, and everyone gets along with everyone. We have become just one big family. Some teams have these cliques where certain guys will only hang out with certain other guys, and not really talk with anyone else. My team does not have that. So if we were to have an openly gay teammate, I am sure that he would be accepted just as everyone else is, and would have no problem becoming a part of our family.
How often do you hear gay slurs like "fag" in practice, in the locker room, or during a game?
I have actually not heard it much at all, if ever lately. I don't know if that's just due to the slur becoming outdated, or people actually starting to realize how much damage it could have on someone.
Do you have gay friends or relatives?
Yes, I have actually become friends with many gay people. Seeing as how the majority of people in the fashion and modeling world are gay, I have had the chance to meet people with all different kinds of personalities and backgrounds. I feel very lucky to have been able to create the great friendships I have through the years.
Are "gay" issues being discussed more amongst your teammates?
No, it doesn't seem to be a topic that comes up very much, so we never really have a reason to talk about it.
How do you feel about gay marriage?
I think that if two people love each other, then they should be able to be together, regardless of who they are.