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12 September 2012 @ 06:51 am
The Man Who Doesn't Actually Exist: A Conversation With A Gay Bundesliga Footballer.  

Note: The translation in English is in this post. The German original (in full) can be found AT THIS LINK which directs to the magazine.

This interview, which is the first time a gay footballer has ever been interviewed about his experiences, albeit anonymously, in Germany, is translated in full by jenny_jenkins and sashatwen



einmann1
einmann


THE MAN WHO DOESN'T ACTUALLY EXIST: A CONVERSATION WITH A GAY BUNDESLIGA FOOTBALLER


We’ve spoken for a long time but it was unclear until recently if we would ever meet. I enter the room and find a visibly overwhelmed young man who would obviously love to run away in the next moment. He stays. No one is allowed to know about this meeting, because it never happened. In spite of his huge misgivings he speaks for the first time about his sexuality, one that has no place in the world of football.



You’ve just come out of an interview with a public service broadcaster. What would happen if homosexuality came up?

I’d lie, that’s obvious. I’d try to keep that subject entirely out of the public sphere. The more it would be discussed, the greater the pressure on me. I can’t afford to have this great big discussion revolve around me.

Isn’t the pressure already immense?

Of course. The price for living my dream in the Bundesliga is very high. I have to put on an act and deny my true self. At first it was a huge game and no problem, but as time passes it has taken its toll on me. I’m not sure I can stand the strain that comes with being a model heterosexual player and me potentially being found out until the end of my career.

Fear of Publicity

What would be so awful if it came out? No one in show business cares when Hape Kerkeling moderates a television show.

I think that football and the media are completely different. Of course I find it stupid, but there’s a cliché about “typical gay” people that fits into the bright world of television. Footballers, on the other hand, are the living breathing stereotype of masculinity. They have to love sport, fight aggressively, and be great big role models all at once. Gays simply aren’t all that. Period. Or is someone supposed to get up there and educate a raging mob of fans before the game with the message that “the queers” are really just ordinary guys and that they’ll be playing too? It’s unimaginable. In a situation like that one, in the stadium, or after the game, the slightest provocation will be blown out of proportion. I would not be safe if my sexuality was out in the open.

Are you angry at the fans?

No, absolutely not. I heard once that in heated moments people are ruled by their hard-wiring, and that tolerance isn’t built into that. I have to accept that in the stadium, and the fans are an essential part of the force that drives me every match-day. In general, heterosexuals don’t reflect on their sexuality. They would never hit upon the idea to question themselves for years as to whether their own feelings were genuine. After all, it's the way it's supposed to be. From this position I have to hope for tolerance, because understanding will never happen. This is too personal a subject and we gays are not much better when it comes to heterosexuals or lesbians. But we're certainly tolerant.  But even if I were to cope with the fans, the overwhelming publicity would be awful.

Why is there fear of this publicity?

The stories, the headlines and the magazines. Everyone would love to know about the wicked things my partner and I get up to beneath the sheets. Does the super-man footballer lie on top or on the bottom? I can think of a few! My passion – football - would be irrelevant. Either I could stroll to an event with my boyfriend and then I’d be in the media for three weeks, or I insist on my privacy and couldn’t be true to myself. There is simply no solution. It’s unimaginable that I could, like a heterosexual player, show up with a new partner and then be forgotten the next day. Normality doesn’t exist. At least, it wouldn’t be normal for me to allow the entire country to discuss my intimate life. That only concerns me and the person who is at my side.

And is there “a person at your side” – someone about whom one could ask one of these hated questions?

Today and now I find this question actually very important. I have no one and neither do the other well known players that I know of. Although: I was once in a relationship. But you can imagine that a month long game of hide-and-seek is poisonous to any partnership. I had to make a decision. Sure, it was nice to be successful in football after that. It was priced accordingly.

Instead of a boyfriend is there a hired WAG for important occasions?

That cliché is unfortunately true. There are events I can’t go to alone and needs must. That the way everyone does it. Only I never had to pay because after all, a genuine gay guy like me has his best girlfriends.

You spoke just now of other players. Is there a sort of “association of gay Bundesliga players” and does the rest of the team know about your homosexuality?

(laughs) No, there’s no association. Quite the contrary. I know of other players in the Liga. Actual meetings never occur though – it would be too obvious. It’s a strange parallel existence that continues into the team. It’s rarely spoken of, but everyone must be aware.

Professional Wishes, Private Dreams

So aren't there any problems within the team?

Absolutely not. I don’t know a single player in the whole of the league that has a problem with it. There are some who pose questions with great interest – but that's an absolute exception. Of course some situations, like showering, are initially uncomfortable for both sides. I have no interest in my fellow players however and eventually both sides cease to care. Also my colleagues are not ignorant, in spite of their reputations.

And what do these colleagues ask?

Oh, quite technical things (laughs). But they usually ask about the boyfriend. I know the love-lives of my teammates from the newspapers. With me they have to ask. It’s all quite normal.

Was coming out of the closet after the friendly encouragement of the head of the DFB, Theo Zwanziger, no option?

Not really. It’s so easy to say, if you didn’t have to go into the stadium on the next game-day. Perhaps it would be easier to get over if more players were to out themselves, but at the moment I see little hope of that. Finally, it would only be a minority, which would make it easy to quibble about it.

Why did you decide to do this interview?

It’s important, to take the first step. I’m in the process of giving myself a trial run. In addition you can understand my situation and that makes it easier to talk about. Others don’t wish to take that step, in spite of the anonymity. Perhaps my colleagues don’t feel encouraged. But I hope they will. We can talk again in a year and then perhaps I can talk under my own name.

What does your future look like?

To continue developing in football. Finally I have a few desires that I want to fulfil. My personal situation won’t change. Of course it would make me very happy if there was a sudden avalanche of outings and I could gaze in astonishment at all the guys I hadn't known about. A bit of normality would make me happy. Just to go openly with a potential partner to a restaurant. That’s a dream.





Once again: The German original (in full) can be found AT THIS LINK which directs to the magazine.
 
 
( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
Faith / thefirstpancake: come on! // cristiano ronaldofaith47 on September 12th, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
In all these interviews, it seems like no one wants to be the first one to come out. (And rightfully so -- they're right that the media attention would be insane.) I just found myself thinking, "Maybe like 30 guys could decide to make the announcement together. Spread the media attention around a bit." If only.
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 12th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
When the DFB pledged 100% support for anyone who came out, that exact idea was put forth by some commentators as an answer to the obvious pitfalls of being the first to come out.

Marta: lolpullhimdown on September 12th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC)
I read somewhere that a mass coming out was the original plan, a long time ago but then people started dropping out and the players left decided they weren't coming out unless everyone else did. Bundesliga too, if I'm not mistaken.
tweed Pants: Tobitweedie on September 12th, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for posting this translation. And I hope this post wont be filled with 'OMG who'dya think it is?!?!' speculation because it really doesn't matter.
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 12th, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
And I hope this post wont be filled with 'OMG who'dya think it is?!?!' speculation because it really doesn't matter.

Well put. Once thing: he's a lovely and well-spoken person and I don't usually translate with tears streaming down my face.
tweed Pants: Tobitweedie on September 12th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
You know, reading it, the one thing I kept thinking was 'he's lovely', hints of humour and that little spark of optimism at the end 'we can talk again in a year and then perhaps I can talk under my own name.'. Lovely.
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 12th, 2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
I'm so grateful the translation got that across. It's all sashatwen's doing!

<3
tweed Pants: Timotweedie on September 12th, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, cos you had nothing to do with it *eye-roll*. Honestly, thank you guys so much and I don't just mean for this one article; everything that gets translated for us ignorant non-German speakers is so appreciated.
炎黃子孫: 1postingwhore on September 12th, 2012 03:37 pm (UTC)
tyvm for the translation! I've heard so much about this interview so it's great to finally be able to read it. :)
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 12th, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
finally be able to read it. :)

It was only out yesterday woman! :p

There were minor time-zone problems, it's true. We collaborated at 2 am in the morning (my time) and breakfast time for sashatwen because it seemed important to get out a good translation out fast.
炎黃子孫: 1postingwhore on September 12th, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
Ahhh, sorry! XD I honestly thought it came out earlier - just saw so many tweets about it that I guess I thought it's been a thing for longer than a day. XD

Thank you guys again for your speedy and hard work!!
the self preservation society: GoT: westerosipomoea on September 12th, 2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the translation! It's just sad that because this is still such an issue for some people, whoever this great personality belongs to has to speak under condition of anonymity. He seems pretty awesome, whoever he is.
lady_teazle: Der Kaiser mit Bierlady_teazle on September 12th, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC)
Ooh, Jenny & Sasha, tysm for the translation. Google was just not doing the job. :D

Totally agree re comments that the 1st person would be overwhelmed by attention, both good & bad. Abuse from asshole fans is a serious danger, and (some) fellow players as well.

The price for living my dream in the Bundesliga is very high. I have to put on an act and deny my true self. At first it was a huge game and no problem, but as time passes it has taken its toll on me. I’m not sure I can stand the strain that comes with being a model heterosexual player and me potentially being found out until the end of my career.

Yup. Having to watch everything you do and say, living a lie to make other people feel better - it's just ridiculous, and so incredibly difficult.

Had to Lol at this though: Only I never had to pay because after all, a genuine gay guy like me has his best girlfriends. :D
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 14th, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
That bit about "best girl-friends" was just lovely!
bleeding_dry: puyibleeding_dry on September 12th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you do much for the post and especially for the translation!
(Now I can read the German original very very slowly and check how awful my German is.)
Kim: medallmapmakerscolors on September 12th, 2012 05:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you again for the translation, I was really excited to read this. Whoever this is does sound funny and lovely. It's awful when you think about the simplest things a closeted player can't do--Just to go openly with a potential partner to a restaurant. That’s a dream.--heartbreaking. The fact that this is also the day-to-day reality of so many people the world over just makes it worse. :/ Hopefully this will be a baby step to a more tolerant footballing world.
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 12th, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
The player at Montreal Impact who came out openly this year said that that was what did it - being unable to accept an award by thanking the most important person in your life.

And you've grasped it I think: it's the simple desire to do ordinary things - go out, hold hands, have dinner with a potential partner [in] a restaurant. That's so bloody basic.

;_;
Kim: medallmapmakerscolors on September 12th, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, that Montreal player was exactly what I was thinking of when I read this.
suzanne410: pic#118538692suzanne410 on September 12th, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
This was incredible to read- Wiping away the tears. Fame and fortune, but no freedom. Indeed, it's a price he unjustly has to pay. Thank you both so much.
Evergreen Klose: football bootsdory_the_fishie on September 12th, 2012 06:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you so, so much for the translation. This whole thing just broke my heart. Just to go openly with a potential partner to a restaurant. That’s a dream. :(

Whoever this is, he seems like a lovely person.
Marta: lolpullhimdown on September 12th, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the translation, bb!

It must be awful to be under that kind of pressure nowadays, I can't even begin to imagine the guts someone would need to have to willingly be the first out gay footballer.

That being said, I think it'd be way more of an issue to the media than to the fans. Don't get me wrong, football crowds would probably be nasty and he'd get a lot of crap but... a lot of players get unbelieavable amounts of hate everywhere that they go, despite their heterossexuality. And to be fair, I can't see football fans taking it as hard or making it as personal as someone pulling a van Persie. Didn't the not-at-all-pissed-off Barcelona crowd once throw a pig's head at Figo?

Still, I can't see anyone willing to make the first move. Hell, if I was in their place, I wouldn't be either. The easiest way will probably for retired footballers to start coming out. Less media exposure that way. It probably wouldn't hurt if it was a football "legend" either.
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 12th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
I think his point about fans in the stadium reduced to their hard-wiring is correct though.

For example: on the magazine page there were nothing but positive comments from German football fans.

So perhaps, since we (you and I, for example) are fans, the media WOULD take more interest than we do.

BUT there is also this: The stories, the headlines and the magazines. Everyone would love to know about the wicked things my partner and I get up to beneath the sheets.

And that, unfortunately, is a fair assessment of human nature.

And in the stadium too - it's too much to invite abuse or be under additional threat of violence (as you say, as a presumed heterosexual he already puts up with bi-weekly abuse) from Ultras in away-stadiums.
Marta: lolpullhimdown on September 12th, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree with the hard-wiring, though. I hang out at another football forum (mostly guys) and I remember there was an OT post about gay marriage. Surprisingly, most guys agree with it but the same people who were posting defending gay marriage also had banners and the like filled with songs with homophobic slurs - not because they're homophobic themselves, but to destabilize the player. I remember reading a comment by someone online who was very offended that people thought he was racist "just" because he was monkey chanting at black players to get under their skin.

But yeah, the media would probably make his life hell and the amount of scrutiny by the general public would be awful. My point was mainly about violence and safety in the stadium - he'll get a lot of stupid shit thrown at him, but I can't see the reception he gets in other stadiums being any worse than what someone like van Persie will get once he plays Arsenal or Figo when he first went back to Camp Nou as a Madrid player.
Sasha Twen: purposesashatwen on September 12th, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC)
While the internet certainly isn't indicative of the majority of fans, a comment at the original article's web location compiles some reactions the article gathered on a facebook group called "My heart beats black, red and gold". I don't want to translate all that hateful and ugly drivel, but it's up there with all the hate group speak you can ever think of. (you can find the comment under "Matthias | 11. September 2012 16:28")

I personally believe people who would post despicable comments like these are in the minority, but the volume of hate they create is unproportionally big, especially against an otherwise silent or indifferent majority, and builds an atmosphere that just feeds poison.

Whoever is brave enough and come out and not bow down to them has my eternal devotion.
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 12th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
the volume of hate they create is unproportionally big, especially against an otherwise silent or indifferent majority, and builds an atmosphere that just feeds poison.

THAT is what I felt, instinctively, but couldn't express!
sabeth86: alisonsabeth86 on September 12th, 2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
I agree. I think most people in Germany probably wouldn't mind at all or be supportive, but Bundesliga just saw with what happened to Pezzoni at Köln that it only takes a few idiots to mess up someones life.
sabeth86: alisonsabeth86 on September 12th, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC)
There was a bit on sueddeutsche.de today talking about the background of the interview. In it they said that the media knows about a few homosexual athletes (including that player). I was positively surprised that if it is such an open secret in media circles etc that none of them tried to gain a story out of it. Maybe the media is showing more responsibility than we give them credit for.
Marta: lolpullhimdown on September 12th, 2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
I remember there were a lot of rumours when the Piqué / Ibra pictures surfaced that there were a lot more compromising pictures but the press had choosen to publish the "tamest" ones. It's nice to believe that the media has a shred of common sense but on the other hand, if it was a world-famous player, I can't really see them saying 'nah, you know what, we're just going to ignore the scoop of the century because we respect people's right to privacy'.
the roads don't love you: lulu dummylouis_quatorze on September 12th, 2012 07:57 pm (UTC)
depends on the press, really. Keeping it secret for the player might be better business sense for the publication in the longer term- use the knowledge to get "exclusives" on the player, or a better relationship with his team, etc. etc.
lady_teazle: Der Kaiser mit Bierlady_teazle on September 12th, 2012 08:34 pm (UTC)
I had read somewhere that many media organizations have a "pink list" of gay players, so that interviewers will know to steer clear of potentially awkward questions. I'm sure there are plenty of "open secrets" just as there are, for example, in the movie & music industries.
Kim: medallmapmakerscolors on September 12th, 2012 11:44 pm (UTC)
Well, there are practical considerations too. Legal ramifications, quite possibly, if you can't produce reliable sources, for one. Also it would impact your reputation, both the journalist's and whatever paper or tv channel or whatever they worked for. You can bet very few celebrities would be willing to cooperate with you if you did something that despicable.

And, you know, there's probably a shred of decency in there too. ;)
marsykemarsyke on September 13th, 2012 06:56 am (UTC)
Wasn't there some guy in England who had an organisation that 'protected' these players? I just can't think of his name.
But he said that he was asked by clubs to provide dates and cover-up possible gay stories in the papers.
Found the dude: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2009/08/05/exclusive-pr-guru-max-clifford-if-a-gay-footballer-comes-out-his-career-is-over/

Edited at 2012-09-13 07:11 am (UTC)
Liz, Literary Experiment: [football] basti up in the aircherryfeather on September 12th, 2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the translation. I have so much respect for whoever this is--even anonymously, I know this took serious courage.

"It’s so easy to say, if you didn’t have to go into the stadium on the next game-day." <-- this so much.

I know it's the fans' attitudes (edit: and the media) that are the big stumbling block here, but still, it's really nice to hear that his colleagues and teammates are supportive and don't make it a huge deal. It's really helpful to have support structures and allies if and when one decides to come out.

Edited at 2012-09-12 07:46 pm (UTC)
flywoman: HatTrick!Messiflywoman on September 12th, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the translation bb!

Professional sports is one of the last bastions of this kind of, as the interviewee puts it, "living, breathing stereotype of masculinity." I understand completely why no one wants to be the first to come out and potentially put his career, safety and privacy on the line. But having sports heroes brave enough to declare their homosexuality openly might do more to dispel the stereotypes and encourage understanding and tolerance among homophobic (or merely ignorant) men than anything else.

I really hope that we do hear more from him, and/or from other gay footballers in this or other leagues.
dokhte bandar naze ballah!: Green eyeskhoshgeleh_16 on September 12th, 2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
First off - thank you so much for the translation, it's really beautifully done (and I know how tough that can be, especially when you're working with speed in mind).

Second, the whole interview was a heartbreaking read. It truly seems like it's going to take a long time to get over this barrier. I hope I'm wrong, but, man, this was the opposite of inspiring in that sense. (But at the same time: this player has been brave enough to speak out, even anonymously. That is a huge step, even if comparatively tiny.)
Becky: fb: best christmas present everbeckella on September 12th, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the translation!

Am now sitting at school, tears streaming down my cheeks. This breaks my heart and makes me so angry at society at the same time.
Jazzy: pique unfroseofdarkness on September 13th, 2012 12:13 am (UTC)
In tears at the last question. Thank you for translating this.
Plump like Roast and Thicker than most...: Ronikerspider_orchid on September 13th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC)
Girl, I appreciate this, but DAMN that was depressing! POOR DUDE! :(
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 13th, 2012 02:56 am (UTC)
:(

<3
Plump like Roast and Thicker than most...spider_orchid on September 13th, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
I had, like, the shittiest day EVER today...like...omg...
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 13th, 2012 03:54 am (UTC)
*internet hugs*

Would it help if I told you you're my favourite <3
Plump like Roast and Thicker than most...spider_orchid on September 13th, 2012 04:02 am (UTC)
AWWW! I love you too tbh. You make all my soccer football communities feel like home and like a place I can be myself. Thank you for that! :* :* :*
Jenny Jenkins: Melancholy 2jenny_jenkins on September 13th, 2012 04:11 am (UTC)
Oh my darling, you couldn't have said a nicer thing!

*cuddles and kisses*

Edited at 2012-09-13 04:11 am (UTC)
宝居かりん: CFC-Mannschaft - Alliancestakarai_karin on September 13th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC)
Thank you for the translation!

I would not be safe if my sexuality was out in the open. it's bone-chilling that those words are accurate. This is such a heartbreaking read, but I believe people need to know of this. Football as the most popular sport in the world is so drenched in dated views and empty machismo, I would've gagged had I not love the sport so much.

But then again it's not just football, even sports traditionally less inclined to machismo like figure bloody skating has bigoted federations and athletes falling out of favors after coming out.

It's depressing all around...
marsykemarsyke on September 13th, 2012 07:07 am (UTC)
Yeah it is. I saw an interview with a figure skater once, heterosexual himself, but he said that he knew gay colleagues who couldn't come out because they would lose the support of their organisation and country.
Wattle: Bayern - FCwattle_neurotic on September 13th, 2012 02:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the translation :)

So depressing though, I really cannot help but feel for this guy and all the others that are in the same situation. It is so stupid that there's this stigma when it comes to homosexuality, because it really should not matter :(
Braided_one: IY - Fehbraided_one on September 14th, 2012 12:28 am (UTC)
Thank you for the translation. It was n incredibly tough read because oh man it is so heartbreaking. He just wants to be himself, but at the same time totally understands the pressure/visibility he would be subjected to if he was the first one to come out ):
livingtea: skylivingtea on September 14th, 2012 03:11 am (UTC)
oh :((((

also thank you for the lovely translation. posts like these are yet another reason why i enjoy ontd_football. the other forum i check out is full of dudes that worry about pjs being gay and the korean footballers being to "girly."
schweinsty: RM: All Inschweinsty on September 14th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
Guh. Thanks for translating, bb. Off to find some tissues now.
( 49 comments — Leave a comment )