Homoeroticism in male sports

Illustration by Ed Appleby
Illustration by Ed Appleby

That’s so gay, bro, and I like it

By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer


Homoeroticism is defined as the sexual attraction between members of the same sex in environments that may be heteronormative or homophobic in nature. For this article, I will specifically be discussing male homoeroticism.

While the world has largely looked down upon homoeroticism, in the world of sports, it runs rampant.

From Canadian hockey, to American football, soccer, wrestling, and rugby—you can just Google the keywords “homoerotic sports,” and you will find many images ranging from fluff to sexual. You can see a man giving another man a big kiss,  anda man getting straddled by another man as if they were demonstrating sexual positions. There are thousands of results, which are actually safe for work, including images, moving images (GIFs), and video clips of male athletes doing seemingly intimate or sexual actions.

A notable example of an intimate display of homoeroticism is during the Everton vs Chelsea FA Cup in 2016, when the Chelsea forward Diego Costa aggressively approached Everton midfielder Gareth Barry. The two were exhibiting a machismo type of demeanor with their chests out, attempting to taunt the opposing player. Costa tried giving Barry a head butt then Costa’s lips ended up on Barry’s neck like he was biting him. The football world was enraged because it appeared like an act of physical violence, which got Costa booted out of the field.

However, if you look at it from a different perspective, you could perceive it as a love bite, or an aggressively passionate kiss. Interestingly enough, Barry jumped to Costa’s defence when there were allegations that Costa bit Barry’s neck.

Hyper masculinity could play a role in why such scenes in sports can be homoerotic. Especially when watching wrestling—not the scripted wrestling like we so often see on mainstream television, but real Olympic wrestling—you can see buff men in tight attire trying to tackle each other and end up in seemingly compromising positions.

Homoeroticism is especially highlighted when you see their well-defined bodies, or you see their junk ending up on their opponent’s butt and face. Watching these sports can be sexually arousing but more often than not, it’s also a way to appreciate and admire the male body. Seeing a man subtly kissing a man or slapping their butt—with such actions not being subjected to homophobic remarks or disgust—is refreshing to see for men who love men, considering how rampant homophobia is in the world of male sports.

A fairly recent research paper entitled “Out on the Fields,” which claims to be “the first international study on homophobia in sport,” surveyed around 9,500 people from mostly developed Western countries such as America, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. According to the researchers’ final report, “80 per cent all participants and 82 per cent of [lesbian, gay, and bisexual] participants said they have witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport. More than half of the figures represent gay and bisexual men who have personally experienced homophobia.” Even in Canada, where same sex marriage has been legal for a long time, the researchers’ conclusion states that “Canada is no different” because “Canada had the highest number of gay male participants reporting physical assaults.”

It’s also not out of left field that managers—specifically PR managers—will try to dissuade their star players from coming out, as it could damage the player’s reputation. This can also be supported by the aforementioned study’s findings that “49 per cent of gay men and 80 per cent of bisexual men stay in the closet” regarding “adult team sports.” Considering this, one can speculate that some of these male athletes demonstrating homoerotic gestures could be using sports to express their sexuality.

Whether these homoerotic tendencies are intentional or unintentional, one thing is for sure: Male sports can get pretty hot.