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.
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.
- 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.
Well done Oregon. #equality
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) May 19, 2014
The reaction, while unique for sports teams, shouldn’t be a surprise from the Timbers and Thorns organization. Last October the teams became the first professional franchises in the nation to endorse a ballot initiative legalizing gay unions. Oregon voters weigh in on the proposal this November.
The Oregonian took the opportunity to talk to the Thorns’ Sarah Huffman. Huffman and Abby Wambach wed in Hawaii last fall, but while they consider themselves spouses their relationship does not yet have legal status. She said the couple plans to take those steps “when the time is right.”
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:
— Jëff Krausë (@DFBJeff) May 19, 2014
Gorilla FC at the Seattle vs. San Jose match:
— Gorilla FC (@GorillaFC) May 20, 2014
The Timbers Army at the Portland vs. Columbus match, just days before a court decision legalized same-sex marriage in their state:
— NAmerican Terraces (@NATerraces) May 18, 2014
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.
- After a few weeks on the bench, Robbie Rogers made his season debut with the main LA Galaxy squad in their 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo. It’s a packed week for the Galaxy as they return to the field Wednesday night against FC Dallas at home.
- Once again the Portland Thorns delivered a 1-0 defeat to the Houston Dash at BBVA Compass Stadium. Both Sarah Huffman and Meleana Shim were substitutes in the match.
- It was a doubly bad week for Lianne Sanderson, Joanna Lohman, and the Boston Breakers as they lost twice in a row to the Chicago Red Stars. Both Lohman and Sanderson saw 180 minutes of action across the pair of matches.
- Abby Wambach’s head found the back of the net once again, but it wasn’t enough for the Western New York Flash who lost to the Washington Spirit 3-2. Lori Lindsey served up the assist for the Spirit’s first goal of the game.
- Anton Hysen and the Myrtle Beach Mutiny got their season off on a good note Friday night as they were victorious on the road against the FC Carolina Discoveries. The team capped off the weekend with a day at the beach to celebrate:
— Myrtle Beach Mutiny (@MyrtleBeachFC) May 17, 2014
- Midweek, many NWSL stars’ attentions turned to international duty. 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying has started for UEFA, and Boston Breakers captain Lianne Sanderson played in England’s 4-0 victory over Ukraine. England’s four remaining qualifiers are all on the road. Abby Wambach captained the USA Women to a 1-1 draw with Canada in Winnipeg.
- Robbie Rogers once again traveled with the LA Galaxy and while he was in the 18 he didn’t see any action. His exclusion is a bit inexplicable as Bruce Arena only used two of his available substitutions. After a 92nd minute goal from Robbie Keane, a third substitution makes sense if only to kill off some of the time on the clock. And why not use the opportunity to bring in a player like Rogers who has found a new home in the back line of the LA Galaxy II?
- In NWSL Weekend action FC Kansas City beat the Washington Spirit 2-1; Lori Lindsey was a late-game substitute. Abby Wambach and her famous noggin were the lone goal scorers in the Western New York Flash’s 2-0 victory over Sky Blue FC. Both Sarah Huffman and Meleana Shim were substitutes in what turned out to be a home turf upset for the Portland Thorns as they fell 1-0 to their Cascadia rivals the Seattle Reign, still without Megan Rapinoe.
The 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!
- Much sooner than anyone expected, Robbie Rogers made the jump from the LA Galaxy II to the LA Galaxy on Saturday, making his first appearance in the 18 in this MLS season. While he never saw the field, it’s very possible that he was part of Bruce Arena’s second-half plans until Omar Gonzalez was taken out of the game as a precaution at halftime. The Galaxy lost 1-0 to the Colorado Rapids.
- Rogers wasn’t the only season debut in LGBT soccer this past weekend, as Abby Wambach made her first appearance of the season for the Western New York Flash after being sidelined due to injury. Not only was it her first appearance, but it was against her wife Sarah Huffman and the Portland Thorns. Meleana Shim also made an appearance in the 1-1 draw between the two teams.
- Both Joanna Lohman and captain Lianne Sanderson played a full ninety minutes in the Boston Breakers’ 1-0 loss to Sky Blue FC. Sanderson is off to England this week for an appearance with her national team as they take on Ukraine in Women’s World Cup Qualifying.
- Lori Lindsey was a late-game substitute in the Washington Spirit’s 1-0 loss to the Seattle Reign.
It was an awesome weekend for LGBT soccer pros as Boston’s captain Lianne Sanderson had a brace in their victory and was named the NWSL Player of the Week! Congrats!
Robbie Rogers didn’t play in LA Galaxy II’s road draw against Arizona United Friday night, but he saw nearly a full 90 minutes in their 3-0 win over the Orange County Blues. It makes one wonder if he’ll be on the road with the senior team soon as they begin a series of three games on the road.
The Myrtle Beach Mutiny kicked off their regular season with a 3-2 loss to Jacksonville United of the neighboring Sunshine Conference. Jacksonville was a tough opponent as 2011 league champions and 2013 conference champions.
Lori Lindsey played the first half in a 1-0 victory for the Washington Spirit over the Chicago Red Stars.
Both Meleana Shim and Sarah Huffman were late-game substitutes for the Portland Thorns as they defeated Kansas City FC 3-1.
It was team captain Lianne Sanderson with the brace as the Boston Breakers took down Sky Blue FC 3-2. Sanderson was involved with the third goal as well with an assist to teammate Julie King. Both Sanderson and Joanna Lohman played a full 90 and the Breakers take on Sky Blue again this upcoming weekend.
Megan Rapinoe was available on the bench but did not see any action in the Seattle Reign’s 2-0 shutout of the Houston Dash.