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.
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.
A weekly roundup of what LGBT soccer players were up to over the weekend. What other sport does that? So with more action on the field and a big movie festival event, here we go!
- Lori Lindsey made her 2014 debut for the Washington Spirit, who also chalked up their first win of 2014, defeating Kansas City FC 3-1. Lindsey started the match and was subbed out at the half.
- Meleana Shim was in the starting lineup and Sarah Huffman was a second-half substitute as the Portland Thorns drew Sky Blue FC 1-1 on the road.
- Robbie Rogers played 80 minutes for the LA Galaxy II as they beat crosstown rivals the Orange County Blues 3-1. Josh Guesman at Corner of the Galaxy has some great quotes from Rogers on how he felt during the battle of a match and poses the question, “Is Robbie Rogers already ready for a return to the senior team?“
- A goal from Joanna Lohman wasn’t enough for the Boston Breakers, who fell 3-2 to the Houston Dash, who earned their first win of their inaugural season. Lianne Sanderson played a full 90 minutes for the Breakers.
- Anton Hysen’s Myrtle Beach Mutiny unveiled a new logo and website at a player meet and greet with their fans.
- The soccer documentary Next Goal Wins about Thomas Rongen coaching the American Samoa Football Team made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. One of the players in the film is Jaiyah Saelua, considered to be the first transgender person to compete in FIFA World Cup Qualifying, but she identifies herself as fa’afafine, considered a third gender in Samoan culture. Rongen shared this great photo with Saelua taken on the way to the event:
— Thomas Rongen (@ThomasRongen) April 20, 2014
With NWSL season two kicking off, the Myrtle Beach Mutiny beginning preseason action and Robbie Rogers back on the pitch, it’s a good time to start a review of what our favorite out LGBT soccer players have been up to.
- It was the inaugural match for the Houston Dash, but they were defeated by the Portland Thorns 1-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Both Meleana Shim and Sarah Huffman appeared as substitutes in the match.
- Abby Wambach was out of the Western New York Flash’s match against the Washington Spirit as she seeks treatment for a head injury suffered during the USWNT’s midweek match against China.
- Lianne Sanderson wore the captain’s armband for the Boston Breakers and Joanna Lohman had a strike hit the crossbar, but their team’s efforts weren’t enough to defeat the Washington Reign FC, who clinched a 3-0 shutout with a goal from Megan Rapinoe.
- On loan to the LA Galaxy II, Robbie Rogers played 40 minutes in the team’s loss to Sacramento Republic FC. His first competitive action this year, he became the first out man to play in USL Pro.
- Anton Hysen and NPSL’s Myrtle Beach Mutiny started preseason action against Francis Marion University, winning 2-1. Here’s him looking good in uniform from his Instagram feed:
The New York Ramblers have announced that NYCFC have signed on as official sponsors of this weekend’s NY Indoor Classic soccer tournament. The Ramblers were founded as the world’s first organized openly-gay soccer club in 1980.
From the Ramblers’ Facebook post announcing the sponsorship:
We are excited about NYC FC’s progressive stance on tolerance in American Soccer, so please rally support for NYC FC as proud supporters of the LGBT soccer community.
The Indoor Classic attracts teams from not only the New York metro area, but also the whole North American gay soccer community. Teams will be representing Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco, Toronto, Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and West Hollywood.
It’s great to see NYCFC deliberately including the city’s LGBT community as they gear up for their inaugural 2015 season.
You can watch this weekend’s tournament action at the CCE Sports Network online.
Colorado 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!
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) April 1, 2014
Bravo, Dillon Powers, on both accounts!
Major 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.
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:
- How well it spreads the “You Can Play” message
- How well it shows off your supporters group
- Overall video quality
Need advice or help with your video’s messaging? Email us at email@example.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.