Saturday, April 16, 2011

This is How Fans and Team Mates Support a Friend and Player

cross post from Asterisk

April 14, 2011

Yesterday, American basketball fans couldn’t seem to understand the problem with Kobe Bryant shouting “fucking fag” at a referee. Maybe we should look to a recent situation from professional volleyball in Brazil to see how they handled it.
Volleywood has the the story, in an article published April 7, 2011. (Note: Volleyball is HUGE in Brazil. I’m not sure how it compares to basketball in the US, but it’s got to be similar, if not bigger.)
A few days ago during the Superliga semifinal match between Sada Cruzeiro & Vôlei Futuro, Sada Cruzeiro fans chanted homophobic slurs towards Michael, a middle blocker from Team Vôlei Futuro. The fans kept screaming “Bicha! Bicha! Bicha!” which means “faggot” in English.

We deeply appreciate that these athletes are taking a stand to defend Michael who has confessed that the incident has been very traumatic and has admitted that he fears for the same thing to happen again. Michael shared that he could not believe what was happening and that he tried to pretend he wasn’t hearing any of the chants.
He said that he could’ve fought back by swearing at them after the match, but instead he took the highest route and left the court without saying a word. Inside the locker room, his teammates came up to him to make sure he was okay.
The incident has prompted Michael to admit to the media that he’s gay. “I’m gay. Everyone knows who I am. My team fully respects my sexuality. I have been playing for 10 years and everyone has treated me well and fair. I do not feel the need to let everyone know about my sexuality,” says Michael.

A week has passed after the incident that forced Michael to out himself publicly, and Volleywood reports that the outpouring of support for Michael has been tremendous. The brazenness of the crowd’s bigotry seems to have surprised a lot of people and called them to action.
At the second semi-final match on last Saturday, the team wore pink warmup shirts to show support, and the team’s libero wore a rainbow jersey during the match.
Support from the team

The crowd unfurled a gigantic banner reading Vôlei Futuro Against Prejudice

Vôlei Futuro Against Prejudice

Then the crowd used thundersticks emblazoned with Michael’s name to turn the stadium pink!
A pink stadium. Wow.

Can you imagine being there for that, feeling that support reverberate through the stadium? I’m in tears just seeing the pictures.
Americans, this is how it’s done. Don’t make excuses for the perpetrator like many are for Kobe Bryant (see comments). Instead, stand against prejudice and homophobia wherever they’re found. That’s how society becomes better for all of us.
Michael during the game
Oh, and Team Vôlei Futuro won in five. BONUS.
Again, major thanks to Volleywood for their coverage of this issue. Click on the article links for much more including youtube video of each complete match. I wish volleyball were bigger here in the States.
(Somebody get on that, okay?)

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