by Sabine Hannakampf
Daniel Arcos, Chilean professional basketball player, is gay. The 1.91 meter tall athlete has been a striker in the squad of Chile’s best professional basketball club, Club Deportes Castro, for years. Now the 26-year-old came out on Instagram in an impressively open-hearted and emotional posting.
In the letter, which we reproduce in full, Arcos speaks openly and courageously about his fears, but also about the need to finally be able to live freely.
I have waited a long time for this day, a personal challenge with new (rainbow) colours on my shirt 🏳️🌈; colours that I previously looked at with shame, but now I want to wear with pride. In spite of time, there is still a taboo in sports, in my case basketball.
I remember going for a walk one afternoon after I had an experience with another man. I felt guilty, I felt bad, lonely, as if I had done something really bad. I was afraid to share it with someone and maybe be judged, as I already did with myself. I continued with my “normal life”, with a lot of sport and study, hoping that time would take care of it, that it would get done and give me the peace I needed, and that it would remain one of those experiences that become part of our lives.
My life went on and I continued to grow and achieve goals. In the field of professional basketball I gradually began to earn my place. The life of an athlete doesn’t only include games with victories or defeats, but also brings with it a lifestyle that offers everything. Several times I felt out of place and I felt that I could not really be who I was.
I avoided unpleasant questions, I lied and silenced myself when I thought something was not fair, and I tried to adapt, to be part of it, to be one of my teammates when homosexuality manifested itself, as so often, in ridicule and insult, synonymous with “weakness and little masculinity. This unease was the reason why I thought of giving up this beautiful sport.
Many days and nights I had recurring thoughts and was tired, so I decided to love and appreciate myself. It was time to move forward. I began to tell my close friends and then my family, always with the fear of being judged. My sister, my mother, my father and my friends all gave the same answer: “You just have to be happy, I’m here for you, the rest doesn’t matter.” These were words that helped me to forgive all that I had lived in the past, and which today give me the courage to write this.
I know that this message can cause ridicule, discomfort and even hatred, but I am privileged to have my family and friends on my team. I decide to take off this heavy backpack that I have been carrying for years, but at the same time it has made me very strong. Everybody has his own experiences and experiences them in his own way, but the most important thing is to live as we want as long as we are happy.
I want to be part of the change and build a society where we can be respectful and happy with each other. I am ready to face what comes despite the uncertainty about what may happen after the publication of this letter, but I think it is time to move forward and remove those barriers that should not exist.
I am convinced that sport can involve us all, but until such issues are visible and natural, it will be difficult to move forward. Respect is the most important thing and, at the same time, the minimum we need in order to live in a better society without prejudice.
Candy-Storm from the Internet community and fans
el mundo del deporte es bastante homofóbico, especialmente en deportes más populares como el fútbol donde extrañamente parecieran no haber futbolistas profesionales homosexuales, lo cual es absurdo… espero con el tiempo comiencen a vencer el tabú
— Karen (@kshd90) June 16, 2020
– Nick Andreas (@nickfolio) 18 June 2020
The Chilean LGBTIQ* organisation Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (MOVILH) welcomed the coming out as an important step towards the visibility of sexual minorities in sport.
The President of MOVILH, Gonzalo Velásquez, pointed out that “in all sports, the adoption of a sexual orientation or different gender identity has always been a problem, given the machismo and/or misogyny that sometimes overlap with homo-/transphobia. Therefore MOVILH
“this beautiful liberation process that the player Daniel Arcos begins He makes an important contribution to other players who may find themselves in a situation of grief or pain because they cannot reveal who they are”.
However, the reactions of the fans, which read positively throughout, show the topicality of the social discourse on the necessity of public coming-outs. While some fans questioned whether there is any need for a “going public” at all these days, others wondered whether society has really reached the point where homosexuality in sport can be dealt with without prejudice – one fan quoted Toni Kroos, who only recently in an interview with gq magazine advised every athlete not to come out.
"I want to be part of the change and build a society in which we treat each other with respect and can be happy," says Chilean pro basketball player Daniel Arcos on coming out #LGBTQ #PRIDE2020 https://t.co/ZKVIwHlihj
— Nick Andreas (@nickfolio) June 18, 2020
The homophobic hostility that athletes* face when they come out or even take a stand in solidarity is unparalleled. In this context we recall Neymar’s homophobic statements (we reported) or the inflammatory reactions to Borja Iglesias’ black painted fingernails (we reported).
At least it seems that basketball is a bit more progressive than football and that’s hopeful!
- daniel-arcos-teaser: Instagram
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