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Pro soccer player resurects the gay-panic shower nonsense

Gay athletes are sooooooo not scary in the shower. Yet we keep having to talk about this.

Chelsea v West Ham United - Premier League
West Ham United’s Joe Hart and Patrice Evra celebrate at the end of the game during the Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on April 8, 2018 in London, England.
Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

Gay men are soooooo not scary in the showers.

Yet from alleged comments by some professional soccer players in England who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, the gays are somehow really scary once the kits come off.

The revelation comes from Patrice Evra, a French former professional soccer player who said that while he played for West Ham, some of his teammates said aloud they would refuse to shower with any gay teammates. By that time Robbie Rogers was already out and showering with his American teammates in Major League Soccer.

Terrifying!

From the Daily Mail:

‘I give the example, when I was playing for West Ham, someone from the English federation came and he said “we need to accept everyone” and the amount of players that were like “no, if some of my team mates are gay they have to leave now, I won’t do any shower [with them]”.

‘I stand up and I say “shut up, shut up everyone, can you hear yourselves?” We still don’t accept everyone. In the football world they are not open minded enough and it’s a shame.’

We’ve heard this idiotic trope for decades, that somehow gay men might pose a threat to straight men in the showers. The idea is that if you’re left alone with a gay man and a bar of soap, he may... physically assault you? Stare at you longingly with his eyes? Be left unable to resist your naked body?

Scott Cooper is a former college football player who was out to teammates. He described what it’s like being a gay athlete showering with teammates — and wait for it — NAKED!!!

After hours of hard practice in 105-degree August heat, I was hot, sweaty, sore, bruised, tired and hungry. Hitting on my teammates was the last thing on my mind. Never mind that they were like my brothers and weren’t my type; I just wanted nothing more than to rinse off the turf and sweat and get some Gatorade and grub.

Ryan O’Callaghan was closeted when he played for the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. He talked about avoiding the showers when they were the most crowded.

So scary!

The insane story some athletes tell themselves about showering with — gulp — a gay teammate is absurdly misguided. As Cooper, O’Callaghan and many others have described, the last thing a gay athlete is going to do is make their teammates feel uncomfortable.

About a dozen years ago I used to wonder where the fear came from. Did these straight athletes think they’d be sexually assaulted by a gay teammate? Like the gays would form a pack and gang up on them in the shower?

Or were they worried about how other people who look at them if they were willing to be naked for five minutes next to a gay guy as they washed away a tough practice?

Truth is, there’s a lot of affection expressed between straight athletes on many men’s teams. Athletes embrace, hug, slap each other’s bare butts in the locker room. They’re afraid that “good fun” might all change if a guy is actually gay.

Except, it doesn’t. There have been gay men on so many high school, college and pro teams over the years, and they have fit onto the team.

Some guys fear the idea of showering next to a gay guy; Then when it happens they realize all the nonsense in their head was just that.

Still, the nonsensical fear was the source of an infamous report by ESPN and Josina Anderson about Michael Sam’s showering habits.

It seems every once in a while we have to deal with this, chatter about what it’s like to shower with an LGBTQ person. Again, Cooper put it so perfectly:

Athletes are professionals that take their job very seriously, and the locker room is no different. As a friend once told me, “You don’t meet your honey where you make your money.” I assure you, gay athletes don’t play sports to be able to get naked with their teammates. This not only goes for the NFL, but all levels of sports. When we talk about the brotherhood (or sisterhood) of a team, it means that those players are family, and are treated as such.

While he was speaking directly to absurd chatter around Sam, Cooper’s wisdom speaks well beyond the NFL and American football.

Do Premier League players need to fear a gay teammate in the shower? Reject him? Of course not. There is no way that player is going to do something untoward.

Yet the “straight” players should probably do a little soul searching about why exactly they have such an issue with a gay guy engaging in the antics that already happen in locker rooms across sports. That could be more telling than anything else.