Against the Rules - Lesbians and Gays in Sport

The issue of gay and lesbian participation in sport is still a taboo subject that is usually only talked about behind closed doors, but rarely discussed in the open. There is hardly a single area of society in which the participation of homosexuals seems as abnormal as in sport.

Even though society’s attitudes to sexuality have changed, the assumption still remains that sport and homosexuality do not mix; lesbians and gay men are still largely ignored or openly rejected in sport.

However, the situation is slowly changing. Various social developments like the fact that sport is becoming a leisure activity rather than a form of physical training, the emancipation of women, the emergence of a gay and lesbian movement are starting to have an impact on sport, with the result that, even here, homosexuality can no longer be swept completely under the carpet.

Against the Rules - Lesbians and Gays in Sport, an exhibition presented by the acceptance campaign office of the ministry for youth, family and health of the North Rhine-Westphalia regional government and organised jointly by SC Janus, Cologne’s Centrum Schwule Geschichte (Gay History Centre) and others, represented an initial appraisal of the subject. It was updated by the European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation (EGLSF) in 2010 and translated into English. The exhibition, opened on May 4, 2010 in Berlin, does not claim to be exhaustive, but aims to help remove the taboos from the subject of homosexuality and sport, and draw attention to the various forms of discrimination against sexual minorities in sport.

In 2012, within the programme Football for Equality, the exhibition was updated again and translated in several European languages (currently available in English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Slovenian, Slovak, Spanish).

The exhibition consists of 37 banners in total, giving introduction and information on elite athletes, discrimination, lesbian & gay clubs & federations, Gay Games, OutGames, EuroGames and portraying LGBT athletes Amelie Mauresmo, Babe Didrickson, Billie Jean King, Bob Paris, David Kopay, Gottfried von Cramm, Greg Louganis, Heinz Bonn, Ian Roberts, Imke Duplitzer, John Blankenstein, Judith Arndt, Justin Fashanu, Marcus Urban, Marie Carsten, Mark Tewksbury, Martina Navratilova, Otto Peltzer, Parinya Kiatbusaba, and Tom Waddell.

The exhibition Against the Rules – Lesbians and Gays in Sport is a travelling exhibition by EGLSF. You can also rent the exhibition in several languages free of charge and show the exhibition yourself. You only have to pay for transportation costs.

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