Brazil hosted what is believed to be the country’s first all-LGBT soccer tournament last weekend. “Champions LiGay” was simultaneously one of the best names for a gay sporting event we’ve ever heard and a wonderful expression of inclusion.
Globo has a wonderful account of the tournament, including this inspiring thought from one of the participants:
Unfortunately we live in a country that still has a lot of entrenched prejudice. I've played my whole life with straight guys, I've always heard a joke here or there, but not directed at me. ... I would stay in the closet to avoid people's abuse. But today, I got rid of it. I decided to accept myself and be what I am. We just want to show people that we are the same as everyone else. We want a space, play our little football and be happy.
Same-sex marriage was legalized in Brazil in 2013. While much of Brazil’s culture is accepting of gay people, there are like everywhere else corners of society that are not. The sports world outside of the United States is widely reported to be behind the rest of society in acceptance. While this was the first of its kind in Brazil, LGBT soccer tournaments have been a staple of the community here in the United States for decades.
These kinds of tournaments are powerful tools to build community and expand understanding. Other events like the Gay Games have been breaking down barriers since the 1970s and ‘80s.
The tournament was won by the team Bharbixas.
Be sure to head over to Globo for a lengthy feature article about the tournament and a broader look at gay people in sports in Brazil. You can also watch some of the participants talk (in Portuguese) about the tournament in this video by Museu da Pelada.
And for more great photos from the event, check out #LiGay on Instagram.