I’m not a super ally or anything. I haven’t marched in a pride parade. I don’t even own a rainbow flag to wave. But as most of my friends know, I stand up for the little guy. Whoever that little guy is, and whoever that little guy loves.
I have near and dear friends and family from all walks of life, through whose I eyes I try to see the world. I know how words hurt, and how support can build up and encourage. And I want to fall squarely on the side of building up and encouraging.
It sometimes catches me by surprise that others aren’t on board. If my Southern Baptist mother can give dating advice to her adopted gay son, and welcome his boyfriend to our family events with hugs. If both my sets of grandparents take it all in stride, why isn’t the rest of the world over it already?
So I was surprised, as the Soccer Allies list continued to grow, to continue to see a dearth of Sporting KC representation. As in, there were ZERO players, bloggers, supporters groups, or team staff on the list.
I tried not to read anything into that. But a niggling voice in the back of my head occasionally piped up and said “this IS the Midwest, these are athletes & sports fans, you’re expecting too much.”
I didn’t like that voice.
Surely soccer is more progressive than, say, American football, baseball or basketball. As a perceived “newcomer” in the world of American sports, MLS surely has more flexibility than the ancient institutions of other leagues.
And Kansas City is a biggish city, with a diverse population. Surely they aren’t harboring hidden prejudices. The Cauldron’s Red Card Against Racism display was successful, even if it didn’t specifically address homophobia.
And soccer fans… don’t we know how it feels to be belittled? To have venom spewed at the thing we love? To be mocked in the media? To have to find our own niches, or elbow our way into the mainstream? Surely the fans can understand what it means to need allies.
Then came the announcement that the May 27 game against San Jose, will be the official kick off (pun probably intended) for Kansas City Pride Week.
This was encouraging. It seems that as an organization, SKC is standing up as a LGBT ally. Awesome!
But it still bothered me that no individuals had come out as allies. And the Cauldron, as a supporters group, had been quiet on the subject. I still didn’t know for sure where my players and fellow fans stood.
Until this week.
Gay4Soccer upped the ante on their campaign for more players and groups to take a stand as allies. They started calling teams out, individually. And SKC, as one of the least-represented clubs on their list, got the attention on Wednesday.
I missed the whole thing, since I was tied up with other things, and away from Twitter most of the day. But the tactic seems to have been successful.
We now have five players who have agreed to be allies, as well as two blogs… and The Cauldron.
I can’t say that this has increased my love for SKC. But it surely makes me more proud to wear the colors, knowing that my club, my players, and my fellow supporters are also on the “build up and encourage” side of the fence.
Rather than the other side, or wobbling on the top…
Here’s the Ally Pledge. Nobody’s asking for a stance about homosexuality in a moral sense. Nobody’s asking for support of gay marriage or political agenda. It’s just a simple statement of the right to participate, without being belittled, disrespected or harmed in any way.
- We agree that everyone should be able to participate in, watch and enjoy sports — whoever they are and whatever their background.
- We agree that sports are about fairness and equality, respect and dignity. Sports teach individuals how to strive and succeed, how to cope with success and disappointment, and bring people together to achieve a common goal.
- We are committed to making these values a reality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We will work together, and individually, to rid the game of soccer of homophobia and transphobia.
- We will make soccer a welcome, inviting, and inclusive place for everyone — for those participating in the sport, those attending matches and for those working or volunteering in it — while making a deliberate effort to reach out to GLBT people. We will work with all these groups to ensure they have a voice, and to challenge unacceptable behavior, including working to eliminate homophobic language from the game.
Allies: SKC Players
- Kevin Ellis, defender, Sporting Kansas City
- Cyprian Hedrick, defender, Sporting Kansas City
- Jon Kempin, goalkeeper, Sporting Kansas City
- Luke Sassano, midfielder, Sporting Kansas City
- Konrad Warzycha, midfielder, Sporting Kansas City
Allies: SKC Media
Allies: SKC Supporters Groups