A queer movement beginning in 2017 intended to add more inclusivity and LGBTQ visibility in the real of sports and physical activities. Now in its third year, the initiative titled Stonewall encourages players and active folks to show their support to the LGBTQ community from December 3-8 by wearing rainbow on their person.
For one week, professional sports like English Premier League allow people on the field to wear the Stonewall support symbol of rainbow laces and that boasts either their sexuality, gender expression, or their support of the queer community. However, trolls are now on the web and demanding that we “give it a break,” and back off the LGBTQ “agenda.”
While this Rainbow Laces Week is intended to create a space for people to come out active and show support of equality in sports regardless of sexual identity or gender expression, the macho and misogynistic history of physical league sports continues to create barriers to the LGBTQ community.
The line between equality and accessibility to things which have long been protected by the heteronormative majority is once again being slanted as a way to keep LGBTQ folks off the field and in the closet.
A current initiative to keep “politics out of sports” titled Let All Play has been circulating petitions to acquire signatures to submit to FIFA in order to continue to urge the owners of sports teams and spaces to promote inclusivity.
Several groups, however, have taken to using that as a way to discriminate against the Rainbow Laces Week. The religious group LifeSite stated, “accepting people who practice a homosexual lifestyle does not, in the same instant, mean we all must accept, as normal and right, the promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism.”
As Stonewall reports, nearly 40 percent of LGBTQ folks don’t feel comfortable participating in sports or attending sporting events because of the current acceptance of offensive language and blatant discrimination.
The article on LifeSite places blame on queer individuals rather than the institution as a whole.
“If some people feel uncomfortable attending sporting matches specifically because of their aberrant sexual practices … is it really the clubs’ duty to facilitate the normalization of those sexual practices?”
The current bylaws in the English Premier League state that “equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements, or images” but also that “discrimination of any kind against a country, private person, or group of people on account of race, skin colour (SIC), ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, language, religion, political opinion, or any other opinion, wealth, birth, or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”
As it stands, though organizations are grappling the pros versus cons of embracing diversity and promoting LGBTQ inclusive practices, the agenda of capitalism is ultimately the victor. If being inviting of queer players and fans brings in more talented players and ultimately more money to the franchises, that will always be the default.