A National Athlete We Should Really Be Proud Of

Brazilian volleyball player Michael made headlines this week for publicly coming out and speaking against homophobia after being harrassed and called "fag" by an entire arena at a match in Contagem last Friday.

People see Brazil as a very liberal and sexual country, but when it comes to openly gay athletes and celebrities we are decades behind, which is why I wanted to thank Michael for having the courage to come out and speak about harrassment in sports in national television this week. We don't have an Ellen, we don't have a Neil Patrick Harris, and we have never even had a gay kiss on national television in Brazil, but if more actors and athletes who are in the spotlight were brave enough to do what Michael did this week, I am certain that they would have a huge impact on the lives of many lesbian and gay people in this country, and stop incidents like last Friday's from happening again.

Michael's coming out was fully supported by his team.


Well done Michael. My full support from Spain.

"We don't have an Ellen, we don't have a Neil Patrick Harris ..."

I wouldn't really hold the U.S up as a beacon of homosexual acceptance! Out of the 1000's of professional U.S athletes where are the gay ones? Or even Bi ones? Don't tell me that every professional football, baseball, basketball, soccer player is heterosexual - because that would be ridiculous. I can name a Yankee & a professional olympic swimmer who've had liaisons with dudes ... Manhattan is a small place, people talk! What about Hollywood? We all know about the dozens of closeted gay/bi actors but are any of them out? No! Are they likely to come out? Well, perhaps in their old age when they don't have a career to lose & leading man parts to win. We all know about the beards, the written contracts they both sign, the kids they have just to make it seem like the actor is hetero, a Brazilian model got a huge career boost by doing just this. The lengths Hollywood go to, to protect their movie stars reputations is astonishing. When Ellen initially came out her career totally stalled & she hid away at her ranch in Ojai for several years, N.P.H has been successful but he's not a 'leading man' so his career wasn't at risk like it would be for someone like, for example, Jake Gyllenhaal, Bradley Cooper, Orlando Bloom, Hugh Jackman etc.. Brazil may be behind a little when it comes to gay TV personalities but when it comes to athletes I don't really think any country is a shining example ... the only high profile professional athlete I can think of that is out is that British rugby player Gareth Thomas ... who's getting a film made about his life with Mickey Rourke playing him, that just shows how unordinary an 'out' athlete is!

Thanks for posting. The U.S. is indeed better than Brazil on this one, but I think the two cultures share a common problem -- the typical sports fan is male, middle- to lower-class, ignorant and homophobic. And the sporting industry has to cater to those people because they are the heart of the industry's profits, as well as the profits of the sponsors and advertisers.

The one promising trend we see in the U.S. is the growing amount of acceptance among young men of gay people, of gay equality, gay marriage, etc. It is true in the middle class, not as good in the lower classes. But it's a hopeful trend. Maybe in Brazil we need to focus on the next generation as well. They are growing up with more money, more options, more communication with the outside world, than their fathers did. They need to be impacted positively. They need to be educated. They can be the change. It takes courage from men like Michael to start that process!

tanti auguri da Italia!!

I live in Hollywood and yes America is still very homophobic. It's alive and well. The New generation is beginning to be more tolerable and accepting and Act's Like Gaga takes us 2 steps forward and then her outrageousness takes us back one.

I think Ricky Martin hopefully if he plays his cards close to his vest may have helped Latin Americans. I just pray they don't find him in the bushes with some male prostitute.

As far as Athletes go Greg Louganis is an outstanding role model and there are few American Gay Athletes out there. But, even if your in the closet it's a huge responsibility to be a Role model let alone a Gay one.

Ellen was blacklisted for many years and I remember her talk show when it started she never spoke about Gay life, she still keeps it on the back burner. Thanks to Rosie O'donnell, Ellens a success. Not all is bad but if we ever want to be accepted we need to set the example and not be so scandalous.

Every time I come across a homophobe and ask them why they Hate so much they always use "The Gay Parades they show on TV as there excuse" and that's our stereotype. We need to join mainstream if we are ever to be accepted and not shock. We have come a long way but still have our own cross to bare.

Hey Michael, take your shirt off, yum.

As previous correspondents have correctly said, for goodness sake don't hold up the US as a paradise of sexual tolerance! The US is in many ways MORE homophobic than Brazil, in that the homophobia is more conscious, thought-through, organised and armed. The homophobia in Brazil is basically ignorance, like in Europe 20 years ago - and brave people like Michael will help move it on quickly towards the genuinely liberal situation of most of Western Europe. The US - with the iron grip that fundamentalist religion has on many parts of society - will be a much harder nut to crack! Most Brazilian officials (deputy governor of Minas Gerais who apologised on behalf of the state,) and members of the intelligentsia (the columnist in Folha who said that Michael was 'more man than any of the homophobic cowards who were shouting at him') have been impeccably liberal and enlightened in a way you just wouldn't find in the US.

You guys are way off. Brazil, and other countries, are not decades behind. The States aren't even at the forefront of anything progressive: the laws of the land are barely scratching at the surface. WE ARE ALL CENTURIES BEHIND. Why are only a few politicians and "the intelligentsia"(because, it's more like a soft cry in the wilderness when they speak to the masses) standing up for what's right? Where are the people around the world rallying up in arms over legally-sanctioned murders, hangings, imprisonments, and beatings over just the simple presumption of being gay, all over the rest of the world?

It goes beyond "sexual tolerance", it is about a deep disrespect for the humanity of every person, regardless of their sexual orientation. And as much as we try to deny it, the hidden culture of homosexual activity in all our countries doesn't help our cause. How many of the staunchest homophobes and bigots are the biggest queens of all? Yes, I went there. How much homosexual activity goes on all over the world by exactly these people who shout "bicha, bicha"? It's a self-hating crowd. A critical mass of Role Models, as "dodge" said, is necessary (but then of course, he goes on to tell Michael to "take it off!"). Anyway.

Role Model, of course, isn't a perfect person; it's a person whose trying to get his act together (or her act, just add if you're PC like that), standing up for himself and what he believes in. The first step is owning up to our actions and our feelings. Then our responsibility is to educate people in the most basic terms of humanity: SELF-LOVE and ACCEPTANCE. It's not about Tolerance, it's about Compassion, it's about Respect.

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