The career of the judoka Marc Fortuny (Barcelona, 30 years old) was promising: six medals in national championships and two international ones with the Spanish team.
His name sounded among the best Spanish professionals in the -100 kilos category.
However, Fortuny decided to quit judo when he was only 23 years old.
"I wasn't happy, I wasn't enjoying what he was doing, I couldn't be myself," he says years later.
"I'm gay, but at that time I hadn't told anyone in my sports environment, I wasn't prepared, I was afraid of being rejected by my club, by my teammates, I felt alone," he adds.
Fortuny returned to the tatamis in 2018, and publicly spoke about his homosexuality.
"I wanted to create one of those references that I had been sorely lacking," he explains.
Before that, he also wanted to contribute another grain of sand to the fight against LGTBIphobia in sports.
“Given the scarcity of information on the subject, I decided to do my final thesis [Physical Activity and Sports Sciences] on homosexuality in an elite athlete,” says Fortuny, who now works as a personal trainer.
"Research on the situation of the LGTBI community in sport is key to ending discrimination," says Anna Vilanova, professor of Sociology in Sport at the National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC) and co-author of the study
LGTBIQA+ Collective, health mental and sports context: a systematic review
"Only in this way can we have an x-ray of what is happening and establish the protocols that allow things to change, starting with the awareness and training of professionals who run educational centers and sports clubs," adds Vilanova, who is also director of the Catalan Observatory of sport.
Historically, sport has been used to configure gender identities based on "a heteropatriarchal model," says David Guerrero, president of the Sport and Diversity association and author of the book
You run like a girl
“Masculine identity is associated with strength, power and virility;
while the feminine one, to all that other type of more delicate and creative aptitudes”, he adds.
Similarly, an androcentric bias is applied: “It seems that only heterosexual and cisgender men [people who identify with the gender assigned at birth] are the only good athletes,” explains Guerrero.
"This creates scenarios in which non-normative people - other than heterosexual and cisgender men - can hardly fit in," adds Guerrero.
During her sports career, the now former rugby player and European champion Marta Lliteras (Palma de Mallorca, 38 years old) always openly expressed her bisexuality.
"I never suffered discrimination because of it, my struggle was always to be a woman," says Lliteras.
This is because the heteronormative system that prevails in sport has also created other types of stereotypes.
Jake Daniels, the first footballer to declare himself gay in Europe since 1990: "I don't want to lie anymore"
Guerrero gives the example of LGTBI athletes who are visible in certain disciplines, such as lesbian and bisexual women in "masculinized" sports, such as soccer or rugby.
“In those cases, we see less LGBTIphobia, and these women can openly live their sexuality.
The collective social conscience attributes a more masculine role to lesbian women.
However, there are no visible lesbians in sports considered to be for girls, such as synchronized swimming, for example,” says Guerrero.
In the case of homosexual or bisexual men, the opposite occurs: “In historically 'feminized' sports, such as artistic gymnastics or figure skating, their sexual orientation is assumed and normalized, while their visibility in other types of contact sports It's more problematic."
Even so, Guerrero considers that LGTBIphobia in sports is receding, especially in those sports that do not have a great media focus.
"The visibility of the athletes themselves and the acceptance of their peers and clubs when an LGTBI person decides to show himself as he is is becoming more and more positive," he explains.
"We also see it with sponsorships, hardly any brand thinks of breaking a contract with a footballer for the mere fact of being gay," added Guerrero.
The president of Diversity and Sport delved into this issue during the conference
Inclusive sport and LGBTI diversity.
30 years after the Olympic Games Barcelona 92
, held last Monday in Madrid and organized by the Business Network for LGBTI Diversity and Inclusion (REDI), a platform that works to prevent
(washing the image of companies that claim to fight for the rights of LGTBI people).
Marta Lliteras, who currently works as a rugby coach in the General Command of the Balearic Army in the male and female categories, also participated in the same meeting.
For the former rugby player, role models are essential, "but safe spaces must also be created within the clubs."
Something that can only be achieved through a profound change based on research and awareness, as Anna Vilanova claims.
The institution for which Vilanova works, the INEFC, leads the
Research Network on LGTBIQ+, Physical Education and Sports
, a state platform made up of several universities and research entities.
"Knowing the experiences of LGTBI athletes allows us to establish action protocols and train professionals and clubs so that sport is increasingly inclusive," Vilanova concludes.
Men's football still does not get a red card
Although it is true that LGTBIphobia is receding in many sports disciplines, the same does not happen in sports as mediatic as men's soccer.
"Unfortunately, it is a show sport that has become a space where fans go to unload all their frustrations and where verbal violence is terrible," laments David Guerrero.
“And not just in the professional leagues.
We are seeing all that violence and that language carry over to lower leagues,” he adds.
In professional men's soccer leagues around the world, LGBTI figures can be counted almost on the fingers of one hand.
The last to make his homosexuality public was the British Blackpool footballer Jake Daniels, 17, last May, inspired by the Australian Josh Cavallo, 22, who had done so a few months earlier.
For the president of the Sport and Diversity association, it is understandable that a footballer does not want to openly express his homosexuality.
"The first insult he would receive if he fails would be that of a fagot, managing that social pressure is complicated," he adds.
Guerrero considers that the management of soccer clubs and federations that sell image rights to countries where human rights are not respected does not help that visibility either.
“We are seeing it, for example, with the Spanish Super Cup held in Saudi Arabia, or the next World Cup to be held in Qatar.
How is a footballer going to openly say that he is gay if he then has to play in a country where homosexuality is punishable by death? ”, Guerrero asks.
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