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You Can Play soccer

You Can Play Celebrates Soccer

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You Can Play soccerWorld 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.

Detroit City FC LGBT Jersey

Detroit City FC Kicking Off Pride Weekend

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Detroit City FC LGBT JerseyDetroit 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!

Puto and Porkchop

Puto and Porkchop

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Puto and PorkchopYesterday I called out supporters groups on Twitter (specifically in Orlando) for frequently using the Spanish word “puto” in tweets around their rivalry with Tampa Bay.

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.

Jay Demerit Vancouver Whitecaps Pride Scarf

Vancouver Whitecaps Say “You Can Play”

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The Vancouver Whitecaps used the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia to debut their new pride scarf. Now they’ve released a new video for the You Can Play Project.

Jay Demerit Vancouver Whitecaps Pride ScarfMany players are featured spreading the “You Can Play” message:

  • midfielder Russell Teibert
  • defender and captain Jay DeMerit
  • forward Erik Hurtado
  • defender Andy O’Brien
  • midfielder Sebastián Fernández
  • midfielder Gershon Koffie
  • midfielder Pedro Morales
  • forward Kekuta Manneh
  • midfielder Matías Laba
  • defender Jordan Harvey
  • goalkeeper David Ousted
  • head coach Carl Robinson

The Vancouver Whitecaps also used the video release to spread the word for their Pride Night coming up on July 27. Scarves are still available at their online shop, as well as upcoming matches while they last. $10 of each purchase goes to support the You Can Play Project.

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Supporters Groups Mark Day Against Homophobia

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This past Saturday was the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) and MLS supporters groups used the day to speak out.

Here’s a look at what some groups did. Section 8 Chicago at the Fire vs. Kansas City match:

Gorilla FC at the Seattle vs. San Jose match:

The Timbers Army at the Portland vs. Columbus match, just days before a court decision legalized same-sex marriage in their state:

And finally the Vancouver Whitecaps used the day to unveil their new rainbow scarf. Ten dollars of the cost of every scarf sold will be donated to the You Can Play Project. The scarf is both available for sale online and in person at upcoming matches.

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You Can Play World Cup Fundraiser

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You Can PlayThe last few years have certainly been amazing for LGBT athletes and fans. In soccer alone, high-profile players like Megan Rapinoe and Robbie Rogers have come out of the closet and continued their professional careers.

But there are many others who play while keeping their sexual orientation hidden. For some it’s purely a personal choice, and that’s okay. But many others keep their secret for the fear of how their teams, their fans, or their friends and family will react.

The You Can Play Project works tirelessly to break down these walls for athletes. Click here to help us support You Can Play this World Cup season.

The You Can Play Project is best known for their videos — public displays of LGBT support from athletes and fans — but they also work in other significant ways. First, they lead panels across the country, speaking at high schools and universities to out athletes and their stories. They also lead trainings with professional teams to help push the climate in sports in the right direction. Finally, they work with LGBT athletes as they go through the coming out process, whether they are comfortable doing so on SportsCenter or if they want to simply tell those who are closest to them.

You Can Play does great work, and I’m proud to support them. And as a soccer fan, I want to use the upcoming FIFA World Cup to send as much support their way as possible from our soccer fan community. Help us out by making a pledge to donate today — a dollar amount per goal scored by the US Men’s National Team during the series of sendoff games and their time in Brazil.

When University of Missouri (gridiron) football player Michael Sam came out publicly a few months ago, You Can Play executive director Wade Davis was there guiding him through the process using his own personal experiences as a now-out athlete. When the San Jose Earthquakes wanted to have a diversity training after Alan Gordon used a gay slur, You Can Play founder Patrick Burke was there to work with them. But it wasn’t just Burkie there as an ally. Out lacrosse player Andrew Goldstein joined him to tell his personal story. Athletes talking to athletes and out athletes like Davis leading the way are important hallmarks of the work You Can Play does.

Join me today in helping them out. Set an amount you pledge to give per USA goal this May and June. We’ll tally up the number of times Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and the rest of our guys find the back of the net and follow up after the World Cup with how to fulfill your pledge to the You Can Play Project.

This is an amazing opportunity to help the You Can Play Project, but it will only be amazing with everybody pitching in and making a pledge. Help us raise thousands for You Can Play and the great work they do with and for LGBT athletes.

Thank you for your support of Gay4Soccer, and for supporting the You Can Play Project!

Major League Soccer Brad Evans

Major League Soccer Releases 2014 Don’t Cross the Line Video

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Last week Major League Soccer and it’s charitable arm MLS Works released the 2014 edition of their “Don’t Cross the Line” PSA video.

It’s…nice. It’s the usual “Don’t Cross the Line” message delivered by league superstars along with fans, which is new for this year.

But it also seems a bit watered down. It seems unspecific. It delivers the league tag line and a lot of feel-good buzz words but it doesn’t call out what “Don’t Cross the Line” means as it has in prior years. Here’s what I mean with language from past years.

2012: “No bullying. No racism. No sexism. No homophobia. No excuses. No exceptions.”

2013: “We’re part of a global community with every age, race, gender, sexuality, or ability. Everyone is welcome. We draw the line at discrimination or harassment of any kind, on and off the field.”

In 2014, that overt anti-harassment message is missing. Does the league find it unnecessary because things are improving? Does the league just think that “Don’t Cross the Line” is so much a part of the culture that defining it further is unnecessary?

But this is a league that just ramped up anti-discrimination and anti-harassment efforts amongst its teams and staff. Posters in locker rooms across the continent tell players, “MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER HAS A ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICY FOR HARASSMENT OR DISCRIMINATION OF ANY KIND.” So why isn’t that zero-tolerance message a focus of a video that fans see on television, online, and in stadiums?

This is a real missed opportunity for Major League Soccer. With a young, hip fan base they could really be staking a claim as the most pro-LGBT league in the nation. But just when you think they’re about to do something really ground breaking, they whiff. Individual teams are doing amazing things, but it often seems like the league is just an inch wide of goal, and that’s a shame.

All in all, Major League Soccer, you’ve done good on this newest “Don’t Cross the Line” video. But you’ve also done better.

Major League Soccer Brad Evans

Seattle's Brad Evans in the new "Don't Cross the Line" video

Athlete Ally Dillon Powers

Dillon Powers: Athlete Ally. Short Shorts Model.

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Athlete Ally Dillon PowersColorado Rapids midfielder and 2013 MLS Rookie of the Year Dillon Powers was announced as an ambassador in the Athlete Ally program yesterday.

Joining numerous other players in Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League, Powers said in the Athlete Ally statement:

…I think sports have always provided a powerful platform from which social issues can be supported and examples can be set. So supporting LGBT equality in sport is important because it can successfully affect social change.

But lest that be his only contribution to the gay community yesterday, Powers was also part of the Rapids’ April Fools Day fun, posing in some retro soccer kits that featured fringe and some very short shorts. The uniforms are a throwback to the Colorado Caribous of the NASL who spend one year in Denver before being moved to Atlanta by an ownership group including Ted Turner.

Enough of the April Fools teasing Colorado; we want to see Dillon Powers sporting this look on the pitch!

 

Bravo, Dillon Powers, on both accounts!

Major League Soccer Anti-Discrimination

Major League Soccer Ramping Up Anti-Discrimination Efforts

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Major League Soccer Anti-DiscriminationMajor League Soccer will be ramping up workplace anti-discrimination and anti-harassment efforts this year according to the New York Attorney General and reported by the Huffington Post.

There will be a few behind the scenes moves made in 2014 in addition to the league’s public Don’t Cross the Line campaign and partnership with the You Can Play Project:

  • A Player Code of Conduct that includes non-discrimination and anti-harassment language will be posted both in home and visitors’ locker rooms.
  • Training for players will be expanded. (Hopefully Wade Davis at You Can Play gets to see lots of MLS cities.)
  • There will be a lead person at Major League Soccer’s central office for handling harassment and discrimination complaints.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in his statement:

I applaud Major League Soccer for working cooperatively with us to promote a culture of inclusion. Together, we are sending a powerful message that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in any form in the world of major league sports.

The New York State Attorney General’s Office has previously worked with Major League Baseball and the National Football League on anti-discrimination efforts.

 

Supporters Groups: Say “You Can Play” in 2014

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Dozens of supporters groups have expressed their support for the LGBT community since this site started. And Major League Soccer has partnered with the You Can Play Project since last season.

Now it’s time to combine those two things as we issue a challenge to soccer supporters groups all throughout 2014: Make the next great You Can Play video.

DC United, the San Jose Earthquakes, the Seattle Reign, and Toronto FC have all made videos. And now, whether your support MLS, NWSL, NASL, USL, a national team, or any other team or league, it’s your turn to show support video style. Check out what some San Jose Sharks fans made:

We’ll be looking for your videos all throughout the year, and when the playoffs come this fall we’ll be picking a top video from all of the submissions we see. Videos will receive ratings in three areas:

  1. How well it spreads the “You Can Play” message
  2. How well it shows off your supporters group
  3. Overall video quality

Need advice or help with your video’s messaging? Email us at gay4soccer@gmail.com and we can talk about ideas. You can share final videos via methods like Google Drive or Dropbox or any other medium that works for you. Just let us know where it is and we’ll share it with the world. You have until October 31.

We hope many supporters groups can take part in this exciting project. Because if you can chant, you can chant. If you can cheer, you can cheer. And if you can play, you can play.

Good luck!

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