First professional boxer to come out

Orlando Cruz from Puerto Rican has become the first professional boxer to come out gay.

Cruz who fights at featherweight told the BBC “I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my career, I want to be true to myself,” he went on “I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”

The news comes two weeks before he takes on Jorge Pazos for the WBO Latino featherweight crown, a fight that could put him in line for a world title bout.

Cruz added: “I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career.”

He’s not the first boxer to come out. Emile Griffith came out as bisexual in an interview with Sports Illustrated magazine, but the two-weight world champions admission came after he had retired.

The only British sport stars to come out during their playing careers are Surrey cricketer Steven Davies, footballer Justin Fashanu and rugby international Gareth Thomas.

It’s a shame this has to be big news, but it says something about society when so few gay sports men and women feel they can be open about their sexuality.


Hereford United silent on homophobia

Fans disappointment with ‘no comment’

Earlier this month the Football Association launched its Opening Doors and Joining In campaign. This is the FA’s vain attempt to tackle homophobia in football. It’s amazing that the dinosaurs running football are even aware there’s a problem. Anyway, better late than never.

Luckily football fans have been campaigning for some time to stamp out this vile problem. The Justin Campaign, named after Justin Fashanu, was founded in 2008. They campaign to end discrimination in football based on gender and sexuality. Their main initiative is the Football v Homophobia (FvH) campaign.  This is an FA endorsed campaign, with the stated aim that: “we want football to take a clear stand against homophobia so that everyone can enjoy the beautiful game and so that football leads the way in removing discrimination and prejudice based on gender identity and sexual orientation.”

How could any football fan disagree with that? Unfortunately though, very few football clubs have given their backing to the FvH campaign. At the time of writing only 20 league clubs have done so. We were disappointed to see that Hereford United isn’t on the list. Anyone who’s read the Heckler will know we are proud supporters of United, so we felt we should contact the club about this issue. An email was sent asking the club to confirm their stance on this campaign and on the problem of homophobia in football. We are disappointed to tell you that we’ve had no response from Edgar Street. A contact close to the club informs us that they aren’t answering emails at the moment. That may be so, but the club must have a policy toward discrimination and as fans, we’d like to know what it is?

Most people are happy with the work being done by the Chairman David Keyte, so come on David surely this subject is important enough for you to issue a statement? Until you do, your silence is deafening.

By @Rural_Anarchist

Support for Young LGBT in Herefordshire

So what do you do if you are bullied because a member of your family is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT)? Well one young Herefordian who wasn’t prepared to put up with that kind of crap dealt with it by setting up a support group.

‘Outside In’ is a youth-led group for young LGBT individuals, their friends and family. The group was set up in 2008 and with the assistance of individuals and organisations such as Hereford Rainbow Forum and Supported Housing for Young Peoples Project. They are now working toward their aims of reducing homophobic bullying; supporting young LGBT people; raising awareness of LGBT issues and challenging stereotypes and misconceptions.

Outside In told the Heckler: “All young people struggle with adolescence but it can be made more complicated when dealing with being LGBT. Issues such as telling friends and family, bullying or confused emotions can be very isolating, particularly in a rural county like ours.

Through our own personal experiences of growing up in Herefordshire, we feel that peer support and space to meet other individuals and be free from prejudice and discrimination can help. So we’ve been developing a social network to provide information, advice, and a supportive peer network for young LGBT people.”

Outside In are currently organising a schools project where they plan to inform year 10-11 students about LGBT issues such as perceived stereotypes, homophobic bullying, health and relationships.

“We appreciate that many problems arise through a lack of understanding, people  react out of fear and ignorance. So we feel that through education, we can help tackle the inequality faced by LGBT people,” they said.

Visit (under construction) or email for advice.

Some People Are Gay, Get Over It!

Last November the Rugby Football League became the first national sporting governing body to sign up to an anti-homophobia campaign. It is hoped that this move, seen by gay rights campaign group Stonewall as ‘ground-breaking’, will be followed by other sporting bodies.

At last years Olympic games, of the 10,708 athletes that took part only 10 were openly gay. A study carried out by Bath University found that between 2% and 10% of people are homosexual. If this is the case, then why is it that there are so few openly gay sportsmen and women?

At present the only professional footballer to come out as gay is Justin Fashanu back in 1990. During his football career he received homophobic abuse from fellow players, fans and even his manager. He received very little support from the FA. Sadly the pressure of being openly gay in a macho sport became too much and he committed suicide in 1998.

Not all sportsmen have suffered the same treatment. Australian Rugby League star Ian Roberts came out in 1995. The reaction of the sporting world and the Australian media was one of support.

But the media is not always that supportive. The negative comments aimed towards female tennis as being a ‘gay sport’ is an example of this.

This is a difficult issue to tackle, as many sportsmen and women are understandably afraid to come out, fearing the consequences. If this is going to change it needs to come from society as a whole and we need to be more tolerant of differences, and as fans, to judge by ability not sexuality.

The lead taken by the RFL must be followed. Groups such as the Gay Football Supporters’ Network also have a part to play in making this positive change. The GFSN aim to “promote the support and participation of gay men and women in football”.

The RFL campaign begins this month and includes the setting up of a forum for gay players and staff. Posters and logos will be carrying a slogan, which we at Heckler HQ fully support, ‘some people are gay, get over it’!