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THEBEAT – issue one – interactive magazine

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Homophobia in sport

 In many people’s lives, sport is not just a game, it is their life. It has many traditions that evolve from the history of different sports and some of these traditions include the exclusion of minorities.

In today’s society, you would not have thought that there would any kind of inequality in sport. But there still is. Even though it is better than what it used to be, it is not equal.

It’s important to remember what equality means and how we as a society can get to that point. All communities aim to be as fair as possible but are they equal? Oxford Dictionary defines “equal” as having the same status, rights, or opportunities which the LGBT community do not have in sport.

How bad are the inequalities in sport?

In the past, it has been racial inequalities in sport making the headlines but now homophobia and the exclusion of LGBT members is at the forefront of equality in sport.

One of the biggest sports that has problems is football. With many reports on the sport showing that homophobia in sport is a bigger problem than racism. In 2012, research by the Culture, Media and Sport committee’s found that 25% of fans thought homophobia was present, compared to 10% who said racism was present.

A LGBT rights charity, Stonewall, collected data from a survey that found that 72% of football fans have heard homophobic abuse. They have even suggested that it is so bad that is the reason that there is no openly LGBT footballers in the professional game.

Rugby has been noticeably better than football with Gareth Thomas being the first person to become the first openly gay man in rugby union in 2009. Now, there is also an openly gay referee who is trying to lead the sport in the right direction. The English Rugby Union (RFU) have been praised by the government committee for clamping down on homophobia within it’s sport.

It was praised because in November 2014, when two rugby faced bans of two years and had to pay £1,000 to a charity of Nigel Owen’s choice after the openly gay Welsh referee received homophobic verbal abuse.

What is being done to combat homophobia in the big leagues?

The government’s Culture, Media and Sport’s committee released a statement in February 2017 saying that sport authorities should show no tolerance to homophobic abuse. They said that fans who are found to be spreading homophobic abuse should immediately face punishment, for example, bans on attending games.

Then the question asked is a lengthy ban justice for the act of homophobic abuse? But the sporting world is starting to reflect what is happening in society. Homophobic abuse is still used casually as slang which is allowed to pass unchallenged in many conversations. But the Culture, Media and Sport’s committee has got onto this and when Tyson Fury was shortlisted as a contender for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The committee questioned this as he has been well known for violent homophobic remarks and they started wondering whether homophobia is actually being taken seriously enough in sport, but also society.

Lindsay England from the Just A Ball Game? campaign said,

“very few LGBT people think they are safe enough to challenge any of the homophobia themselves at the time of it occurring. So it’s possible there will be numerous repeat offenders, who think what they are doing has no consequences.”

Maybe it is the bigger issues of homophobia in society that is slowing sports like football down in progressing forward in our country. It is important for football to be as equal as possible as it is one of the most popular sports in the UK and if the most popular sports are reinforcing inequalities between minority communities. But if sportspeople from the LGBT community can not address the abuse, then how can homophobia in sport end?

One way in which sportspeople have shown their support with the LGBT community is through wearing rainbow laces, a campaign made by Stonewall to get sportspeople to unite in solidarity and equality. This is a campaign is where people where rainbow laces on their boots to show that they support the solidarity. It has become a trend nationally as even universities, such as Bournemouth University wore rainbow laces on their Varsity Day.

It is not clear what will make homophobia in sport disappear but it is definitely still prominent in professional sport and it needs to be seen to before it affects the next generation of sportspeople who take the abuse and put it into their everyday life.

HOMOPHOBIA IN SPORT SNAPCHAT VIDEO from George Heal on Vimeo.

 

Do I look masculine?

Society defines masculinity, how a man should look, think and feel resulting in a clear stereotype. Looking at the noticeable increase in pressure on men and how they should look in our culture.

Many thinkers have wondered why this image has become the way it has. Some have said that the male look needs to appear dominant to reinforce traditional roles which widen the gap of the inequality between men and women.

Our world is becoming more diverse, masculinity is changing, it is being replaced with new looks and expectations.  In runway fashion, masculinity is something completely different. It has basically disappeared, or merged into androgyny.

The current trend on the runway is androgynous clothing and models. With male models attempting to manipulate their bodies to look more feminine and vice versa. With the Autumn/Winter fashion season well under way, unisex clothing has been a key part of various fashion weeks around the world. In London, there was a noticeable number of androgynous models.

Designers are pushing boundaries regarding gender and how they are portrayed. Burberry is a mainstream brand who are trying to show the diverse nature that we live in and the fluidity between genders. Dr Shaun Cole, a writer and lecturer at the London College of Fashion says there has been a long tradition of playing with gender appropriate and inappropriate clothing and boundaries within.“It is inevitable that this will be played out on catwalks” explains Dr Cole.

“Certain designers are pushing boundaries by thinking about what has been traditionally considered men’s clothes and challenging this and exploring concepts and designs that might be considered genderless or gender fluid and so this has played out in the choice of models.”

More clothes are being made for one type of body, less for men and women. Most recently, models have been wearing clothes that had been designed for a single body type. Versus Versace’s Autumn/Winter collection embodies the spirit of youth. They wanted to represent how young people live and feel. With colours and styles suiting both genders.

Are men becoming more interested in fashion?

Men have always been interested in fashion, where in the past it may not have been as normal as it would be today. Fashion trends are changing all of the time,  for men there have been some big shifts. From fauxhauks to skinny jeans, mens fashion has become more slick and contemporary.

There might be a lack of interest from most men in runway fashion, even though statistics from the British Fashion Council say that menswear is to increase by 22.5% by 2020.

Designer and photographer, Roy Ikoroha, said that men are becoming more interested in fashion because of the inner vanity all men have. Roy believes that men are becoming more interested in fashion due to the media portraying the “ideal man” that is shown to us through television, social media and other things such as billboards.

Roy explains how he became interested in fashion,

“I was never really that bothered about fashion until sixth-form and university days, but then I realised I suddenly liked trilby hats and properly coordinating my clothing as I assumed this would make me look and feel cooler not only to myself, but to my friends too! My shirts had have to now be tight-fitting and my jeans had to avoid being bootcut at all costs in order to look good! If you were spotted in the coolest brands – namely Ralph Lauren Polo tops, and Adidas or Timberlands footwears and you were ‘the man’!”

How is androgyny coming into society?

In today’s society, people are becoming more open to different ideas and contemporary ideas on gender fluidity and clothing. There has been an increase in gender neutral clothing brands such as 69 Worldwide, Toogood London and One DNA.

All of these brands, however, are designer, but what about in mainstream society?

Selfridges has it’s on genderless clothes line called ‘Agender’ which aims to explore and examine the shifting boundaries through ground-breaking fashion, music and design collaborations.

Designer, Roy, says that we are moving into a very unisex-clad stratosphere in fashion culture. This would suggest that we are going to see more and more genderless clothing sections in shops as it could both be a benefit to the shops and society, as it will be cheaper to produce a genderless clothing section than a male and female section. It would also benefit society and as people feel like they would have more freedom in what they choose to wear.

Not every man is going to start wearing androgynous clothing, but the ongoing trends are leading the way of contemporaneous clothing for men and it would not be surprising to see the evolution of genderless clothing lines/shops in the future.

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