The director of Samtökin ’78, the national queer organisation, is familiar with cases where athletes have had a tough time with in sports in Iceland because they’re queer. She says that the organisation is willing to assist The National Olympic and Sport Association of Iceland, ÍSÍ, with queer education.
Auður Magndís Auðardóttir, director of Samtökin ’78, says she is not surprised to hear that athletes have experienced and witnessed queer prejudice in sports in Iceland. Samtökin ’78 have already received several complaints about the matter. “People have gotten individual counselling from us. Obviously I can’t go into details, since we are committed to maintain full confidentiality. But what I can tell you is that these people reached out to us and sought our help because they had a tough time.”
Auður says that even though cases of extreme violence seem to be rare within the sports movement in Iceland there are certainly other things at play; such as bullying and silencing, as can be seen from GayIceland’s coverage this week.
“If things aren’t openly discussed it will make queer people feel as though they’re somehow repellent. Silencing gives the impression that there’s something wrong with being queer, that it’s a taboo.
Then on the other end of the spectrum there are the malicious jokes, which sting and create a poisoned atmosphere.
It’s no wonder that studies show that queer students find gym class to be especially tough, since the locker room is the place where they feel the most vulnerable. And it’s the place where they’re most likely to be bombarded with cruel jokes.”
“If ÍSÍ … wants to get education, then all they have to do is contact us and we’ll … schedule a convenient time for it.”
Auður says that the same studies also show that queer girls fare worse in their teenage years than boys. Therefor she’s a little surprised to hear that in Iceland queer male athletes seem to be having a harder time coming out than female athletes. “But come to think about it – and this is only my personal speculation – perhaps it’s because by coming out queer men are going against this “macho” image that society seems to have of athletes.
Female athletes on the other hand have already challenged society’s image of femininity, merely by taking part in sports. They’ve fought and broken down the barriers of what it means to be a woman. So if they come out its possibly not considered as much of an issue as it is for men.”
However Auður wants to make it clear that she’s not saying that queer prejudice and bullying is more likely to be worse in the sports movement than for example in an average work place. “The simple fact is that if there isn’t any organized education about these matters,” she explains, “then the atmosphere becomes sour.”
The National Olympic and Sport Association of Iceland, ÍSÍ, is designing a queer educational talk for the clubs within the association. Has ÍSÍ asked Samtökin ’78 for a lecture or a seminar on queer issues, prejudice or bullying? “Possibly they have. But to my knowledge they haven’t done so in the past few years,” she answers, but says that Samtökin would be more than willing to assist ÍSÍ. “Of course! We would love to find a plato to work on with them. We already have volunteers who are eager to go out there with the aim of educating people.
If ÍSÍ, or anyone else for that matter, wants to get education, then all they have to do is contact us and we’ll find out what sort of education they need and then schedule a convenient time for it. It’s as simple as that.”
See also: ÍSÍ has to fight homophobia
Queer athletes are ignored and silenced
ÍSÍ: “We have to eliminate prejudice”
Main photo: Smaller photo: Nordic photos/Getty images.