Editor’s note: When the LA Galaxy played the Carolina Railhawks in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in June, Robbie Rogers was not the only gay soccer player in the stadium. Former college player Stephen Bickford was on hand to watch, and had some reflections on watching Rogers play.
A year has passed and we’re back to where we started. The Railhawks hosted the Los Angeles Galaxy in the US Open cup for the third consecutive year, and I come to you with another article about the Galaxy’s openly gay player, Robbie Rogers. This year, the result was the same in two ways. The Railhawks won, and Rogers gave a good account of himself.
However, there’s far more depth to this year’s Robbie Rogers than the Rogers who was playing in his first road game for his new club last season. Robbie Rogers has shown a lot to fans, pundits, his teammates, and his coach this past year. He was able to come out from under the weight of being “America’s first openly gay athlete in a major professional sport.” And he has handle the pressure and celebrity that have come from it with incredible courage, strength, humility and grace.
The ESPN Body Issue of their magazine hits newsstands this week, and for the sixth year running, they have brought us some of our favorite soccer stars stripped down. The LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez and Seattle Reign’s Megan Rapinoe (both members of their respective national teams) bring the tally of soccer players the magazine has featured to over a dozen. Few sports have been featured annually; not even baseball and hockey have made it in every year since the tradition began in 2009. Let’s look back at all of the pics from the start until this week’s issue.
World Cup break is over! And first up we want to share the You Can Play Project’s latest video, celebrating the world’s sport this World Cup season.
The video is a great testament to soccer as a sport that can be played by the rich or the poor. It can be played indoors or outdoors on any type of terrain. It doesn’t matter if you are straight or gay. All that matters is “If you can play, you can play.”
Thank you to everyone who used this time to make a pledge to the You Can Play Project. You’ll be receiving emails soon with your totals. If you didn’t get a chance to pledge, it’s not too late to donate to their great work. Videos like this only scratch the surface of what they do, with so much behind the scenes help to athletes happening all the time.
You can make a gift to You Can Play at their website.
- Only one goal was scored in the Washington Spirit’s victory over the Chicago Red Stars midweek. Lori Lindsey played most of the match, and her pressure helped ensure the shutout.
- Also in midweek action, two first-half goals led to the Boston Breakers being shut out by FC Kansas City. Lianne Sanderson captained the team for a full 90 minutes.
- The shutouts in NWSL continued over the weekend with a 5-0 walloping of the Portland Thorns at the hands of the Western New York Flash. Meleana Shim was a first half sub.
- Finally it was a 1-1 draw for the LA Galaxy against Chivas USA. After an outstanding performance on the road in Chicago, Robbie Rogers earned a spot in the starting lineup and played for the full 90 minutes in his new home at right back.
For the second year the New England Revolution supporters groups Midnight Riders and Rebellion will be marking Boston Pride at Gillette Stadium.
Things get started Sunday night before the Revs’ match against the New York Red Bulls where the groups will be selling Pride gear before the match with proceeds going to the New England advocacy group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.
The festivities continue on Saturday the 14th as the supporters groups march in the Boston Pride Parade for the first time ever. The Midnight Riders and Rebellion will be joined by members of the New England Revolution staff for the march past some of Boston’s major landmarks. It will be the first time a pro sports franchise participates in the event, one of the oldest and biggest in the nation.
“The Midnight Riders have been looking forward to this year’s Pride events since our first successful celebration last May,” said Midnight Riders president Fran Harrington. “We believe that soccer is for everybody, and we’re excited to demonstrate that with our involvement in Pride Night at the Revolution game and at the Parade in Boston the following weekend.”
Detroit City FC will be kicking off Motor City Pride with a Friday night match that will be supporting the LGBT community both nationally and locally.
Detroit City is partnering with the You Can Play Project on the match in which the players will be wearing special kits just for the occasion. It very well could be the first time in the United States a sports team’s uniforms have been dedicated to the cause.
The match day uniforms will be auctioned off after the game with proceeds benefiting the Ruth Ellis Center, a local residential facility specializing in at-risk LGBTQ youth who have run away from home, are homeless, or otherwise at risk. Jerseys with the Pride Night design will also be available for purchase on the team’s website also to benefit the REC.
The club has already said that the match against the Erie Admirals has ticket sales that are already outpacing their last match which was a sellout. Pride nights are both a great show of support but also a great ticket sales booster!
Ticket sales for Friday’s match are outpacing sales for our last match, which sold out. Don’t miss it! http://t.co/NaiM0Wr8Kn (fixed link)
— Detroit City FC (@DetroitCityFC) June 4, 2014
Once again YouTube has produced a video to commemorate Pride Month, and this year it’s a celebration of out LGBT athletes.
And seeming to purposely coincide with World Cup month, the post has many, many soccer stars–both out and allied–featured sharing its “Proud to Play” message.
Check it out:
Out of the 34 athletes and YouTube personalities in the video, 18 are from the world of soccer. Over half. Major League Soccer also gets a shoutout on the video’s page as an organization that supports equality. Both MLS and MLS Works did a great job in sharing the video on social media as well.
Here are the video’s soccer stars in order of appearance, both out players and allies, speaking out:
- Robbie Rogers, LA Galaxy
- Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, Barcelona & Brazilian National Team
- Marta Vieira da Silva, Tyresö FF & Brazilian National Team
- Megan Rapinoe, Seattle Reign & US National Team
- Denílson de Oliveira, fmr. Brazilian National Team
- André Santos, Flamengo & Brazilian National Team
- Gabriel Barbosa Almeida, Santos & Brazilian Youth National Team
- Leandro Damião, Santos & Brazilian National Team
- Marcos Arouca da Silva, Santos & Brazilian National Team
- Jádson Rodrigues da Silva, Corinthians & Brazilian National Team
- Elano Blumer, Flamengo & fmr. Brazilian National Team
- Leo Moura, Flamengo & fmr. Brazilian National Team
- Wladimir Rodrigues dos Santos, fmr. Corinthians
- Gabriel Rodrigues dos Santos, Internacional & fmr. Brazilian National Team
- Paulo Henrique Ganso, São Paulo & Brazilian National Team
- Jess Fishlock, Seattle Reign & Welsh National Team
- Lori Lindsey, Washington Spirit & US National Team
- Sally Shipard, Australian National Team
A pretty impressive list and soccer fans should be proud of how well-represented we are as we gear up for an exciting FIFA World Cup!
- LA Galaxy defender Dan Gargan felt ill late in the first half of their match against the Chicago Fire, and Robbie Rogers was called in as a substitute. His wicked cross to Landon Donovan resulted in a game-tying goal and the assist and other great moves earned him “Hero of the Game” honors.
- The Boston Breakers gave Joanna Lohman and Lianne Sanderson, well, breaks this past weekend with Lohman not playing and Sanderson serving as a sub in their 4-1 win over the Portland Thorns. Both Meleana Shim and Sarah Huffman were Thorns substitutes.
- Abby Wambach suffered a knee injury in the Western New York Flash’s 2-1 loss to the Houston Dash. She is expected to recover quickly and is a part of Jill Ellis’ roster for the USWNT’s upcoming friendlies against France.
- The midweek rest must have done the trick for Lianne Sanderson as she scored a brace against the Washington Spirit over the weekend. She was the sole Boston Breakers scorer, though, and the team lost 3-2 to the Spirit in a match that also included play from Joanna Lohman and Lori Lindsey.
Some fans acknowledged that the word is offensive to some and that they’d work to change their language. Many others took a more defensive stance on the issue. Both these reactions are familiar to me as I’ve heard it all before as I let supporters groups know that in many Spanish-speaking cultures it’s the worst gay slur possible.
The defensive posturing usually comes in two forms. The first is “That’s not an offensive word.”
Posts on Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary dispute this. But before you attack me for citing sites dominated by user-generated content, here are some other examples. The gay republican group GOPRoud asked comedian George Lopez to apologize for using the word in his routine mocking Mitt Romney. The Spanish-language talk show “Jose Luis Sin Censura” was taken off the air in part because audiences were encouraged to chant the word at guests who appeared to be gay. If you want to take this more directly into the sports world, out boxer Orlando Cruz has had crowds chant the word at him during fights.
To many, “puto” is clearly an offensive word targeting gay men.
The second defense that comes up is “That word means a few things. We didn’t mean it the offensive way, so it’s okay that we use it.” Okay, let me tell you about PorkChop.
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs are a Minor League affiliate of baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies. Moving from Ottawa to the Allentown area in 2008, the name is derived from “pig iron,” which is a product of the region’s once-booming steel industry. As many new sports franchises do, they held a “name the mascot” contest the year before play began. They received thousands of entries and the team selected a name submitted by dozens of fans: PorkChop. PorkChop seemed like a cute, clever, and innocuous choice for a name for a mascot that’s a grey-colored porker. It might have been cute; it might have been clever. But some Lehigh Valley residents found it anything but innocuous. When the Valley’s Puerto Rican community grew rapidly over the decades in the second half of the twentieth century, porkchop was a derogatory slur used against them as they quickly became a greater part of the area’s blue-collar workforce in the steel industry and other area companies like Mack Trucks.
Just days after the original announcement, PorkChop became Ferrous. The team heard fans’ complaints and while they meant no offense by the use of the word, they listened and they learned and they did what they felt should be done to make sure all fans felt comfortable with the area’s new franchise. General manager Kurt Landes summed up the team’s position well speaking to CBS News: “We were really unaware of any negative connotations with the word ‘pork chop.’ If it offended a few, it’s a few too many.”
Our sport would be so much better if we followed the IronPigs’ example when it comes to supporters groups who toss around the word puto. We’d be so much better off if the reaction from all when the issue was raised was:
We were really unaware of any negative connotations with the word ‘puto.’ If it offended a few, it’s a few too many.
- Lori Lindsey was one of three players to score in the Washington Spirit’s 3-3 draw against Sky Blue FC. Her shot from distance found the back of the net.
- In a week when same-sex marriage became legal in the state of Oregon, Sarah Huffman’s Portland Thorns defeated Abby Wambach’s Western New York Flash 2-1. Wambach scored in the match that saw Meleana Shim as a late-game substitute.
- While Lianne Sanderson and Joanna Lohman both played a full 90 minutes, it was another loss for the Boston Breakers as they fell to FC Kansas City 2-0.
- A goal and an assist from Abby Wambach ensured a 2-2 draw for the Western New York Flash on the road against league leaders Seattle Reign FC.
- Later in the week Lori Lindsey played 90 minutes in the Washington Spirit’s 3-2 win over the Houston Dash in a match that saw some DC pro football players in attendance.
- Meleana Shim got the start in the Portland Thorn’s 1-0 home loss to Sky Blue FC. Sarah Huffman was also a substitute.
- Memorial Day Weekends seem to be historic for the LA Galaxy, a year after Robbie Rogers’ team debut he was available but did not play in a match that saw Landon Donovan score a brace to claim the MLS all-time top scorer mantle.