NewsWorldVíctor Gutiérrez, LGTBI water polo player: "They keep shouting...

Víctor Gutiérrez, LGTBI water polo player: “They keep shouting ‘faggot’ at us in the stadiums and nobody lifts a finger”

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He has been the first Spanish team sports athlete to publicly come out of the closet The first to get a sanction for homophobia applied in the history of professional sports Now he publishes his story in ‘Yellow ball, rainbow flag’, a sincere testimony about reality of LGTBI people in elite sportsThe yellow of the water polo ball and the rainbow of the LGTBI flag are now its colours. “They are what represents me, the sport that has made me the man I am and the flag that has cost me to catch, but that once I have grabbed it I will never let go,” Victor Gutiérrez tells NIUS. He waves it high and proudly. That is why the book in which he recounts his difficult journey, “a journey from shame to empowerment”, he admits, could not be titled otherwise. Yellow ball, rainbow flag: elite sport comes out of the closet (Planet), he reaches bookstores to uncover the true situation of this group in high-competition sport and the difficulty of breaking through as a homosexual. “I have lost many things along the way”, he regrets. He asks. What have you had to give up? What has been the most difficult? Answer. Two complicated things came together. On the one hand, the sacrificed life of elite sport that forced you to give up vacations, enjoy time with friends, hours of study… and on the other hand, having to hide my sexual orientation. Pretending, living a lie for 24 hours so as not to be rejected in my sport was exhausting and painful. It leaves scars that when writing the book I have discovered that I have not yet managed to close. From the age of 13 or 14 that I began to feel that I was attracted to boys and until I was 18 when I said it for the first time, that part of my life I feel that it has been stolen from me. I had to live those years absolutely repressed, rejecting myself , with fear, with shame. I took refuge in sports to erase that part of me that I thought was monstrous, my homosexuality. Through my performance and my success, I wanted others to notice that other brilliant part of me and praise and value me for it. I was looking for the applause of others that I myself refused, because I considered myself an abomination, someone sick. P. Is sport really such a hostile space for gays? A. Sport is the area in which all the values ​​of the most toxic masculinity are manifested. That is to say, the most respected is the strongest, the most macho, the most authoritarian…, and when you go out of the norm and you are not man enough, you are not good enough to be there. Apart from the fact that we grow with a very macho and homophobic vocabulary within sport that does a lot of damage. It is quite common to hear coaches, parents in the stands shout “don’t be a fag, don’t shoot like a fag or don’t run like a girl”. That type of expressions and behaviors for LGTBI people are like slabs that we throw into our backpack and that weigh a lot. Do you remember the first time they called you a fagot? Of course, I was 8 years old and I didn’t even know what it meant, but I sensed from the tone that it was something very bad, so I took care to find out what it was and to do everything possible so that no one would identify me with it, I made an effort not to have pen, in not playing only with girls, in doing boy things… in living a lie from a very young age. Pretending, living a lie for 24 hours so as not to be rejected in my sport was exhausting and painful. Yes, if I look at it with perspective, I think that those two times are a good reflection of the path and the evolution that I have lived. The first time it made me withdraw, hyper-monitor myself, eliminate any trait that could identify me as a homosexual person. The last one, already empowered, I thought, I don’t have to allow this and I rebelled, not only for myself, but for all those people, those children who continue to suffer those insults. It was like a gift to my little self and to all the children who have to listen to these kinds of comments when they play sports. I got the first sanction for homophobia in the history of professional sports: a four-game suspension and a 200-euro fine. It was one more step towards a more inclusive and safe practice of sport for all. P. But not enough, because according to complaints in your book, sport in this sense is stagnant…R. In the last 40 years there has been little progress, the same behaviors, the same attitudes are repeated. Think about it, from that ‘Michel fagot’ of the 80s or ‘Guti fagot’ to the ‘Cristiano Ronaldo fagot’ of now we haven’t advanced at all. They keep calling us a fagot as an insult in the stadiums and nobody lifts a finger. Absolutely nothing is done. I remember that 20 years ago they threw bananas at black players in the stadiums of Spain or called them monkeys. What has happened in these 20 years? That there is still racist behavior, but there are awareness campaigns, there are signs against racism on T-shirts, there is a law that prohibits it, offenders are sought out, they are expelled, stadiums are closed, there are economic sanctions, there is all machinery and devices working to work and eradicate racism in Spain. What happened to LGBTIphobia? Absolutely nothing. It is that these behaviors are not even included in the minutes. It is that we have competition leaders who directly deny LGTBIphobia, who say that it does not exist on soccer fields or in sports venues. It is urgent now that the new Sports Law is approved, in which LGTBIphobia is going to be specifically included as something to prosecute and punish, and that is going to change the game scenario, because finally we are going to have the law in the hand tools to persecute those behaviors.P. Do you think that clubs like Madrid or Barça could do more for the rights of the collective from their position? Football is the most followed sport and, therefore, the one with the most power to change things. But I expect little, really. I am aware that such important football clubs are brands, companies that bill all over the world and that do not get involved in political, religious, or LGTBI issues because it is something that generates controversy, so they decide not to position themselves. For me it is a cowardly position, because in the same way that, for example, Barça has removed the cross of Saint George or Madrid the cross of the shield to penetrate the Arab market, because of course, they are religious signs… and they do not It has mattered to be flexible in that sense, I don’t understand why putting a rainbow flag or a rainbow armband or a rainbow number are taboo subjects. And more so when we have examples of big leagues like the English League, the Premier League, in which it is done. Here more courage is lacking, I regret that the big clubs, which could have such a powerful message, are so conservative in that regard. I am convinced that clubs like Madrid or Barça would not allow their players to come out of the closet. Do you think those big teams would allow their players to come out publicly? A. I am convinced that no, I am not familiar with the contracts, but they do not only represent themselves but rather represent a club with certain interests, and it seems complicated to me that a club like Madrid, for example, whose main sponsor is Fly Emirates, the Saudi airline, from the United Arab Emirates, where homosexuality is persecuted and punished with death, because they are going to allow one of their players to come out of the closet. Q. Do you think it is more difficult to come out of the closet for an athlete elite than for anyone else who does not have this profession? R. Yes, in sports it is scary to come out of the closet for many reasons, due to the lack of references, because we face the unknown, we do not know what is going to happen, because of the impact that news like this can have… before We were talking about behaviors that continue to be reproduced in stadiums and sports venues. Mentally preparing to face thousands of people insulting you with impunity while you are competing, in the pool, in the athletics stadium or on the playing field is something very difficult to face.Q. You have done it and the result has not been as hard as you expected…R. Yes, that’s why I wanted to tell my story in this book, because unfortunately whenever we talk about sport related to the LGTBI community we do it for something negative, for a complaint, for an insult, because someone has had to leave sport for that reason. , and there is an absence of positive stories, and positive stories are much more powerful than negative ones, especially for young people. If a boy or a girl of 12 or 13 years old who is lesbian, or who is gay, or who is trans, hears that someone in the elite who has come out of the closet has done well, that will help them lose their fear, to empower themselves, to take the step, not to give up their identity or their love for sport. On his foray into politics: “I have come out of a pool to jump into another full of sharks” P. What has sport taught you? Well, sport has taught me many things, it has given me, along with my family, all the values ​​I have. It has taught me never to give up, to never lower my arms and above all I am left with the fact that it has taught me to win, but the most important thing is that it has taught me to lose in life, to relativize everything. That neither the victories are so fantastic nor the defeats are so horrible. P. And what has pushed you into politics, because you are secretary of LGTBI policies of the PSOE? VOX’s entry into the political scene was what pushed me. I decided to take the step because I saw that there was an uptick in LGTBIphobia attacks, of speeches that were beginning to penetrate young people and that scared me a lot. And I chose the Socialist Party because all the rights and freedoms that I enjoy as a homosexual person are thanks to the PSOE, for me it was the most coherent thing to be in the place where people have been working all their lives to make the lives of people like me more easy.P. And what is more difficult to fight in the pool or in the political arena? Hahaha, much worse in the political arena than in the water, firstly because in the pool, despite the competition, there is a good vibe between everyone and what happens in the water stays in the water, however in politics what it happens in the party, in the congress, or wherever, you end up taking it home and the confrontation with the rival is much more bitter. I say that I have come out of a pool to jump into another full of sharks.

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