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Homophobia in Sport and Organization

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Homophobia in Sport and Organization


        Gays, Lesbians, and Transgenders face many obstacles throughout their lives in the current world we live in. Most of their hardest decisions come from deciding either to come out or be open with their sexual status. A lot of factors affect the way the LGBT community decide how and when to come out. Among family members and friends one of the most important things a member of the LGBT community may consider coming out is the work environment. Unfortunately in today’s society the workplace is typically dominated by heterosexual individuals with mostly homophobic feelings towards the LGBT community. This could lead to the possibility of the individual coming out losing his or her job and then having a difficult finding another job where they accept this type of lifestyle. The LGBT community continually face discrimination within the workplace either that be by being hired or once becoming a member of the organization facing wage deductions or verbal abuse to name a couple of the items they face. Known widely around the world sports are one of the last areas where homophobia is heavily prevalent around all levels and for the moment isn’t changing dramatically. Recently there have been increased numbers of active players’, men and women announcing their homosexual status but the overall support for the players still has not changed. There continues to be homophobic attitudes towards these athletes and a lot of these ideas stem from the professional organizations or college institutions where these athletes are currently playing. In terms of these professional organizations the athletes are the employees of the organizations and the atmosphere these organizations create give the either the comfort or hardship to be homosexual within the company. The same ideas are shown within the typical business world and carry over into the sports world with the increased commercialization of sport. Businesses are beginning to create policies to include the LGBT community to help them be more comfortable in their current workplace. Although there are multiple ways organizations have created a disturbing environment for homosexuals some are looking to help build a better place for them.

        In the workplace gays and lesbians have a higher level of stress among their coworkers because of the situation they are in. In Joshua Collins Stress and Safety for Gay Men at Work within Masculinized Industries he discusses how gay men in particular go through this process. According to Collins (2013), “For gay men working within these industries, being open about sexual orientation may be a fearful experience compounded by the need to cope with both intrapersonal and interpersonal understandings of what it means to be gay and a working professional” (p. 247). Collins is directly stating how gay men have to juggle their interactions with their heterosexual coworkers because they do not want to be out casted by their peers. Although Collins’ research is around gay men it could be said lesbian women also go through the same type of juggling process during their employment. To compensate for their fear of being out casted they try to mask themselves. Again Collins mentions this in his article, “Gay men experience intense pressure to be muscular and embody masculine emotions to fit in” (p. 247). Due to heavy masculine culture which exists within organizations especially sport, gay men feel the need to appear muscular to fit into the environment around them. This type of mentality where people of homosexual status can become difficult where their area of employment requires a high level of trust. “The same is often true for those working as firefighters, because the job requires the development of close relationships and trust, as well as the need to stay in close quarters with one another for long periods of time” ( Collins, p. 248). In terms of a career in law enforcement or firefighting having a tight group of people is very important to the overall success of the group and could affect people’s lives. Gay and lesbian individuals face the stress of if they come out they could be isolated from the overall group. Organizations need to realize this is happening within their organizations and find ways to filter it out.

        Sport workplaces have been a hotbed of homophobic issues throughout the years. In the highly masculine world of male dominated professional sports not only players on the field but also those who serve in supporting roles who are both openly and closeted homosexual have experience many issues. In Elizabeth Cavaliers Men at Sport: Gay Men’s Experiences in the Sport Workplace she examines a number of gay men who work in sports. Although in recent years many of the men she interviewed about their open homosexuality have had a growing rate of acceptance there are still a number of issues faced. However, among on-field employees there is still a great reluctance to come out as openly gay. For many the issues centered around the locker room and the “unique set of challenges.” Many of the men sited concerns regarding the change in relationships they may have with other on the field employees including players. Another major concern was the culture of professional sports locker rooms that “included sexist and homophobic language as a central feature”(Cavalier, 639).

        Organizations create rules and policies employees must adhere to become what the company believes are proper working standards. These rules develop a level of conformity each member follows sometimes without even thinking. Sports have these attributes as well. For example on a football team one football player will have to follow the rules set by the school, athletic department and his coach. These rules tend to be formal and written out but in some cases his own teammates will have rules which are unwritten. Collins continues this idea, “The expectation that employees will adhere to unwritten rules and regulations for behavior contributes to a closed-minded organizational culture” (2013, p. 248). As Collins states having a culture where conformity is necessary doesn’t allow for growth in new areas. Therefore in a heavily masculine culture like sports or in the business world it is hard for one to believe in something to which the norm of the organization is not. A homosexual individual working in an organization may feel the norms he or she needs to conform to do not fit who they are as a person. This organizational structure needs to be changed to allow for individuals of LGBT to feel comfortable in their environments. 



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