Homophobic or Beautiful
That is the question that has been raised in reference to a recent women’s basketball marketing campaign by Florida State University. FSU has decided to showcase its women’s basketball team in a new light. Instead of portraying the players as tough and competitive, the campaign seeks to display them as “soft” and “beautiful.” (seminolehoops.com/teamkayli.shtml)
The main point that FSU is trying to get across is that women basketball players can be both athletic and beautiful at the same time.
However, some people are viewing the campaign much differently. They believe that the “glamour” shots only reinforce homophobia in women’s college basketball, because they also portray the players as being “heterosexual” as well.
Seattle Times basketball columnist Jayda Evans writes, “I'm just concerned the sexualized look continues a different, damaging constant in women's hoops—homophobia.”
I recently wrote a blog post about a documentary called “Training Rules,” which takes a closer look at the discrimination many lesbian athletes face while playing women’s college basketball. Basically, this kind of discrimination has turned into a negative recruiting tactic, in which colleges and universities across the country are telling potential recruits that other programs are full of lesbians in order to sway their decision. As a direct result, many schools and coaches try desperately to soften their image in order to portray a more feminine persona so that they are not mistaken for being lesbians, or for encouraging a “homosexual climate.”
The thing that is somewhat funny about all of this is—who said that all lesbians are tomboyish and butch? What we need to get away from is the focus on “image.” There are just as many “lipstick” lesbians, or overtly feminine lesbians as there are non-feminine lesbians. This only shows how naïve people can be, and how damaging certain stereotypes really are. Showing how feminine you are doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t gay. It’s the same thing for men who try to act more macho and “manly.” There are plenty of strong, “manly” gay men in the world of athletics. Not all lesbians are butch, and not all gay men are feminine. Furthermore, there are plenty of tomboys who are straight and just feel more comfortable dressing the way that they do. It’s the same old adage—you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Personally, I am not offended by FSU’s marketing campaign. While I do think that it’s a bit over-the-top (and if you have seen the website, then you know exactly what I am talking about) for a women’s basketball team in general (I mean it’s basketball, not America’s Next Top Model), I don’t think it’s homophobic at all. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with women athletes who want to showcase their “feminine” side. When most of America sees you with your hair tied back in a ponytail and wearing a basketball uniform, it’s nice to let them see you with your hair down and wearing everyday clothes that you feel comfortable in. It shows them the “real” you, whether it’s in a skirt and heels, or baggy jeans and sneakers. A “softer” or “beautiful” side doesn’t necessarily mean “heterosexual.” It just means, “Hey, there’s more to me than basketball.”
Blogger Bio: Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is a versatile writer, having experience as a journalist, copywriter, author, freelancer and blogger. She is the author of the Golden Crown Literary Society Award-winning book, The Trouble with Emily Dickinson (also a Lambda Literary Award finalist). Her recent novel, The Crabapple Tree, was published in May 2009. In addition to writing short stories and novels, Lyndsey also contributes regularly to a variety of national and local publications. Visit www.lyndseydarcangelo.com for more information.