“I’m a Footballer. And I am gay.”

Many associate sports with males; a gender stereotype that has been placed for the longest time ever in a heteronormative society.

Heterosexuality is a concept based on common sense assumptions (Cameron & Kulick, 2003) and its ‘compulsory’ status limits individuals the freedom to express their sexual preferences. More than that, gender stereotypes also behave as a set of guidelines on how we are expected to speak, act and behave according to our sex, with the risk of being labelled ‘deviant’ otherwise.

Gender discrimination at workplaces, such as in the representation of politics, is not something new to us. But what about having one’s career jeopardized as a result of one’s sexual orientation?

Football is a spectator sport, and one which I would consider to be a performance put up by athletes for their supporters. And for this reason, athletes are mindful of the public’s opinion and conscious about their image in the audience’s eyes. Sports can be considered a form of homosocial bonding between the same sex (Cameron & Kulick, 2003), especially in the case of men as they discuss each play. Sports is indexed with masculinity, and football, with many host countries regarding homosexuality as illegal and punishable by death, is tied with a homophobic audience. It strikes to me the fine line between homosocial bonding and homosexuality, which athletes must be cautious of treading on.

Protagonist Bradley McGuire is a rising football star in short film Wonderkid (2016).

“Why should my sexuality be an issue?”

Bradley, the protagonist of this film, knows he is gay, accepts that he is gay, and desires to ‘come out’. This would, however, upset his homophobic fanbase and end the career as he just began to receive attention for his talent. We should also note that if not for the protagonist’s statement on his sexuality, we would not have the slightest idea he was gay. I feel that this portrayal of the character debunks stereotypes placed on a homosexual individual, such as “gayspeak”, or other language habits. Labelling has also led society to overgeneralize (Cameron & Kulick, 2003). As a result, individuals become identified based on the ‘labels’ placed upon them and may sometimes go discredited [Bradley’s talent] in the process because ‘he is gay’.

At one point in the film, Bradley is asked to prepare for an initiation song as he joins the new team. This reminds me of hazing as an entry to a fraternity (one of the in-class readings). Males are inclined to join fraternities as a mean to declare their masculinity and distance themselves from the label ‘pussy’. Bradley, however, expresses his resistance when suggested to perform songs like Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi and Girls on Film (a song featuring BDSM and sexual fantasies) [note: these songs were mentioned in relevance to his controversy of outrage against a fan on camera]. His agent, Johnny, was upset with his response as it risked revealing his sexual preference.

 “What’s wrong with me lad?” “You’re just different.”

This started a furious debate on ‘coming out’ as they threw labels on his homosexuality. The use of labels has produced categories (Cameron & Kulick, 2003) and reconfigures reality as we bring into picture i.e. sexual orientation, with the terms “bender”, “queer”, and “faggot”. Johnny’s character reminds us that even if we are tolerant of deviant sexual preferences, heteronormativity causes our subconscious to act like our gender, in line with normativity. Bradley called in sick on trainings, as if homosexuality was an illness. This was met with Johnny pacifying Bradley to have him back at trainings.

“No one heard it. We’ll deny it if they did.”

Cameron & Kulick (2003) also discusses how the idea of homosexuality has evolved over the years: from being regarded a pathology to homosexuality as a crime and now an identity. In this short film, Johnny’s attitude represents that of the majority in a heteronormative society; we tend to forget a refusal to acknowledge something is itself an acknowledgement.

The last part of the film screened Bradley talking to the captain – on the topic of his initiation song yet again. This time, singers like Pet Shop Boys and George Michael were suggested to him [these singers had ‘deviant’ sexualities and ‘came out’ later in their career].

Wonderkid’s message to all closeted athletes and young LGBTQ+ individuals: #beyourself

 “We can tell people.”

The film ends with Bradley’s decision to ‘come out’. It addressed his initial ‘camera controversy’ which was sparked as a result of homophobic abuse. I think this highlighted the fact that these sportsmen are human too, and besides the labels they identify themselves with, they also deserve to be treated right.



Cameron, D., & Kulick, D. (2003). Language and sexuality. New York, United States of America: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved March 1, 2018

2 Replies to ““I’m a Footballer. And I am gay.””

  1. I think it’s apparent in the film that Bradley was being forced to make a decision between 2 very important aspects central to his identity: a footballer and his homosexual orientation, which is sadly perceived to encompass very contrasting traits – gays are feminine and not built to be athletes. This film also reminds us that such internal turmoil can so agonising for gay individuals, and that what they need is simply recognition and acceptance from the people around them, for support and for them to not be viewed any differently from the normative community, that one’s sexual orientation is not central to their athletic abilities.

  2. Likewise, I agree with the fact that there is a fine line between homosexuality as well as homosocial bonding, and indeed, this is an issue faced by most athletes. In the film, Bradley was conflicted and could not choose which identity he should stay true to – a heterosexual footballer as his fans wished, or his hidden homosexuality.

    Not only that, this film also brought up another issue that is unavoidable in a heteronormative society. Homosexuals tend to think that they are different from the norm and that they are deviants. Also, heterosexuals grew up thinking that heterosexuality is the norm and the natural.

    Also, this post reminds me of how certain sports tend to exhibit more ‘masculinity’ than other sports. Sports like rugby, baseball and football are thought to be more ‘cool’ than that of other sports. Jock is a slang used to refer to athletes in high school and college. These people are often thought to be the ‘cool guy in school’. Jocks in films are often portrayed as basketball, baseball, and football players. I wonder why sports like squash or archery are not featured.

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