profile of young hockey player "Ryan", Paul Rellinger looks at a happily out athlete from Ontario in the Northumberland News:
Northumberland woman plays open and without ridicule
Part two in a series featuring gay athletes in Northumberland County
NORTHUMBERLAND -- In locker rooms across Northumberland County, and beyond, athletes talk about almost everything -- but sexual orientation appears to be out of bounds.
The perception is gay athletes can only participate in sports if they stay ‘in the closet’ and hide their sexuality from other athletes.
But one Northumberland athlete loves her sports, and is openly gay.
Sara Holek, a 21-year-old bodybuilder and sports enthusiast from Centreton, said growing up she was always involved in a variety of sports. And although from a young age she had homosexual thoughts, she didn’t come out until high school.
“It was around this point where I felt comfortable telling people of my sexuality,” said Holek. “I don’t think I came out and said, ‘I am gay’, as much as I just started hanging out with lesbians. I feel that was almost the best way because it was showing people, ‘Yes, I am hanging out with lesbians, yes I am okay with it.’”
According to Sara, it eventually became well known in the hallways at school that she was gay. Making the transition from a ‘closet’ lesbian to an outed homosexual was made easier by having her identical twin sister, Karen, by her side.
“I did not lose friends over (coming out),” said Holek. “I consider myself lucky and blessed for that when I hear stories (about others who) have not been so fortunate. When I was seen kissing a girl at school and the word spread, I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want to leave the change room. I was so nervous because I was simply not ready to face people for fear of what they would think.”
But her friends accepted her, and so did her teammates.
“I never experienced negative slurs about my sexuality or was pushed out of a change room. No one acted differently around me. Playing sports and being gay can co-exist. You are not a great athlete because you are straight, or because you are gay, it is because you are truly good at it.”
Holek and Demarsh agree the problem in the locker room does not lie in the gay athletes, but in their teammates and coaches. Change has to start there.
“If you have been a team member they should know you for you,” said Holek. “Isn’t that how we judge people and decide we like them or not? Being gay is your choice, it will and should not affect your life. Eventually it takes a toll on a person who wants to come out, and feel they can not. Being accepted is all one asks for.”
Holek begs the question: Would someone willingly ‘out’ themselves to risk their life, friendships, job, and ultimately their acceptance?
“What I am saying is my advice is more for athletes who are heterosexual,” said Holek. “It is hard enough for someone to come out -- why make it harder? Help them, because if you support them, many will follow. There is support (out there).”
In today’s world of sports, Holek said people are more accepting of women being gay than men.
“It seems as though being a gay male in sports is something that is not so accepted,” said Holek. “Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands? Accept one for who they are, not who they choose to be with. If it does not affect your life, why does it matter?”
It is time to put an end to homophobic myths regarding sports. Such as: gay athletes are unwanted on their team or in the locker room; gay athletes prefer soft or ‘artistic’ sports to contact sports; lesbians prefer softball or hockey to other sports; and girls who excel at sports must be gay. Such double standards exist as well: that gay men have a less desire to play sports, while gay women have a greater desire to play sports, than straight women.
Demarsh said these attitudes need to stop if any change is going to happen.
“It’s going to take brave people to evoke change, and from bystanders who are brave enough to stand up and say no, that’s wrong. Gay people can’t win this fight by themselves, they need allies.”
Read in full HERE.
|7-9 September 2012|
Brussels Gay Sports will offer a weekend of fun and fairplay in the capital of Europe, with volleyball, swimming, badminton, and tennis, as well as fitness and hiking.
Learn more HERE.
|26-28 October 2012|
The success of the first edition of the QueergamesBern proved the need for an LGBT multisport event in Switzerland. This year will be even bigger, with badminton, bowling, running, walking, floorball.
Learn more HERE.
|17-20 January 2013|
Sin City Shootout
The 7th Sin City Shootout will feature softball, ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, basketball, dodgeball, bodybuilding and basketball.
Learn more HERE.
|13-16 June 2013|
IGLFA Euro Cup
After this year's edition in Budapest at the EuroGames, the IGLFA Euro Cup heads to Dublin for 2013, hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers.
Learn more HERE.