Friday, November 30, 2007

Irish Lesbian Athletes

I’m writing my weekly blog entry early this week because I am off to Dublin, Ireland tomorrow for a few days to serve on a doctoral committee. The doctoral student, Linda Greene, interviewed Irish lesbian athletes about their experiences in sports. Her research is the first to explore this topic in Ireland and makes an important contribution to the research literature on lesbians in sport.

Sad to say, homophobia and heterosexism are alive and well in Irish women’s sport. I’m looking forward to the conversation with Linda and the rest of her committee. I want to ask Linda to talk about how she compares the experiences of lesbian athletes in the US with how it is for Irish lesbian athletes. Linda has spent a lot of time here in the states as a college and professional soccer player so she is in a unique position to talk about this.

I was reminded, as I read Linda’s dissertation, how difficult it is sometimes to tell the difference between internalized homophobia (the fears we have taken in from the culture around us that now inhibit us, keep us closeted, even as the culture becomes more welcoming) and the real threat of discrimination, harassment and estrangement that we are smart to protect ourselves from. I’ve known so many lesbian athletes and coaches silenced by their own fears. I’ve known just as many who were smart and strategic to hide their lesbian identity from people who mean them harm. Linda’s dissertation reminded me that it is important to challenge both internalized homophobia and the discrimination and harassment.

Talk to you next week when I’m back from across the pond.


JMCoachEd said...

Pat, I'm looking forward to reading about your experience in Ireland. I would expect some challenges for lesbian athletes in a country that only legalized divorce relatively recently. I don't want to jump to any conclusions though; we certainly have a long way to go to reach equality in the US. I hope the trip was grand!

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