Psicologia e pratica degli sport di squadra
di Leano Cetrullo

Homosexuality and homophobia in professional volleyball - A true story - Andrea Frangioni

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5 marzo, 2015 - 09:26
di Leano Cetrullo
Translated from Italian by Manlio Converti


Nowadays, the issue which we are talking about  is crucial in contemporary society and sporting activities. In this regard, I interviewed Andrea Frangioni, great friend and talented sportsman. We had a chat on sensitive topics such as homosexuality, tough manliness and coming out. As a premise, I want to emphasize that homosexuality must not be excused as a sickness, as it is often the case with heterosexuality. To maintain homosexuality does require a cure or must be capable of being replaced with different sexual orientation is a statement void of all factual content and leads to a dangerous prejudice so well entrenched in our outdated society and media communication. A lot of studies showed  that kids who grown up in gay and lesbian families, do not behave differently from children born in  straight families when it comes to social, emotional and intellectual patterns. Furthermore, follow-up studies, tracking the same sample of individuals when adults, have found their gender identity and sexual orientation not influenced by their parents’ sexual preferences. By a psychological point of view, the aversion for gays and lesbians stems from a concern over a disorder, something “misplaced” with respect to identity and gender roles, a sort of discomfort perceived when confronted with the idea of men having a typically female set of traits and viceversa. One of the foundations of homophobia is indeed a defensive polarization of gender roles, which leads to fear and despise the specters of male passivity and dependence and female activity and self-sufficiency. This is a primitive defense mechanism, grounded on a naïve misconception of anatomy and mating behavior, still hard hitting in portraying things in their “proper place”. After this premise, let us listen to Andrea has to tell.
- What do you think about tough manliness as the typical social status of the sportsman?
I have to stress that tough manliness is not a problem restricted to the sport field…actually, the question is that there are many machos and  few men too, if you get the wordplay here. We live in a basically male chauvinist society where the concept of manhood, in addition to being mistaken, rhymes with macho and is quite far from the word  “man”. Any human being needs to feel included into a recognized community, to abide by customs and traditions which society perceives as normal. Fortunately, the concept of normality is undergoing perpetual change and this augurs well for the future…As any membership group, the sport community has its own rules, customs and habits and we might expect that the rule of life which is in force is “being normal”. In the sport field, ostentation is always bad and is considered synonym with lack of self-confidence and attention calling. When you feel insecure about  you really are, you strive for acknowledgement in society; but if you are secure about yourself, you don’ t need any form of community validation.
- What’s your stand on coming out?
Does it need clarity, courage and emancipation? My stand on the outing issue is rather particular. It seems to me this word carries an overbearing connotation. If you are gay, you are expected to disclose your sexual orientation…why? To hide and lie on your own life is one thing (I’m talking about life and not sexual attitude), to be compelled to introduce ourselves to someone and add the tag “gay” is quite another thing. “I’m Andrea, nice to meet you. And I’m a gay”. Why don’t you say you are heterosexual when you introduce yourself? Are we sure all of this is really interesting? Why should I feel forced to do that? Such an obsessive inquisitiveness of the sexual orientation of your neighbor is simply aberrant. Even more aberrant is the conviction that homosexuality is just related with sex and sexual impulses, with no feelings involved. I hate the word “emancipation”, but I understand its use. No one can really imprison you, it is up to you to behave as a prisoner or to feel free from chains. If you stand in front of a mirror and smile, you won’t feel a prisoner. I always believed that originality is what makes you special and if you dig deep in yourself, and you live the way you want to in accordance with the self you found, then it’s just impossible don’t be special.
- How did you live your sport life up to this point? How did you handle your sexual orientation?
 I became a professional volleyball player when I was 16 years old, playing as a first-string in the B2 league, so my youth career was quite short.I was a little reckless guy, somehow inexperienced, though with a few important emotional experiences that helped me out to tackle life in proper terms. I outed myself quite soon, I never looked at the issue around because it wasn’ t a problem for me, I just wanted playing  volleyball and so I did. We are talking about the 90s, I wouldn’t say people were open-minded in such a respect at that time. I remember that the two most important volleyball clubs in Rome in those years were run by two guys not really “gay friendly” (to use a politically correct term), so I bumped into the problem very early in my career. Luckily enough, my first coach, who trained a small team, wasn’t a macho but a man and he didn’t judge a book by the cover but raised his gaze beyond to see if I had the makings for becoming a good player. Little by little, I managed to be selected for the “juniores” national team and soon rumor had it that I was destabilizing the team due to my sexual inclination. Then I became a regular in the line-up for a club in B2 league andI often overheard this sentence “Yeah, he is a gifted player, but he is gay…”. I was 17 then and I had already collected a vast array of insults…isn’t this a record? Soon I increased the awareness of my talent and I began deliberately showing off my sexual orientation when playing, particularly enjoying when machos got upset by being defeated by “this little fag”. I’m not say that it was easy, the peace of mind comes after years of struggling, but if you are man you will make up your own mind sooner or later. In my specific case, my value as a player has helped me quite a lot to reacting to hearsay, I’ve heard tons of rumors but I’ve always been strong to stand them. Though insults have been recurrent in everywhere I played, I kept straight on my path of growth. I have to say, by the way, that I also met wonderful people: it takes all kinds, it takes all sorts. Andrea, feel free giving  your last impressions on the topic… I made early my choice, that was living  the way I wanted to live in each particular moment, just honestly. In this doing, there was a natural selection of the people surrounding me. Homosexuality  represented a problem for my career, I cannot deny that. The most striking case is certainly when I was offered to sign for a top league foreign team: I soon had to terms with reality when my sports agent rang me up and told me to disregard the offer since the team changed the coach and the new one was renowned to be homophobic. I want to conclude saying that the greatest satisfaction one can achieve is to get, on the field, the respect you deserve from who used to despise you and that, at the end of the day, nothing really matters. Here is a little tip for my other colleagues who are witnessing of the same situation as I did. Just live your own life according to the way you want to, but be honest towards yourself and do not let the problems of the people around you become yours.
Be men, not machos.
Homophobia is racism, it is necessary to make a step further
 to protect every single aspect of individuals’
self-determination, sportsmen included.
 (Cesare Prandelli, italian football national coach)
Dr. Leano Cetrullo

Following the publication of the interview in italian a debate is grown.
Here the posts published:

Manlio Convert first reply

Congratulations to the editors who found my good substitute.
More sensitive and accurate in the technical details.
Alas, it is precisely those details to be used against us today from lawyers and psychologists, doctors and professors, that contrast each written so dogmatic, stigmatizing  it as a"Gender theory".
What matters most today is therefore the silence of Fnomceo (Italian Medical Surgeon and Dentist Association) and the Ministry of Health as well as the silence of any colleagues in the network,
Silence Consent, we thought, and instead is indifference or worse undisguised homophobia, ready to lash out as soon as you dash directly more serious matters.
We had two days ago two colleagues, Dina Nerozzi comparing us to dogs into a Senate Judiciary Committee public debate, and a more one, still anonymous, who denied the license to a guy just because homosexual. Do we can talk around this?

Dear Andrew,
Best wishes, you're cute, young, post-modern, free, but you're wrong on two points.

What would happen if you were like me a second rate in sports?
Your idea of freedom into the "do not say gay" is a compromise with respect to your current managers?

Think about it next time you get in the game, because as a day you stop being a champion,  you'll keep to be gay or "fagot" and you will have to deal with as I do for the approval of the mass of a world that indicate us so
At this point you will understand, and I hope that understand especially all homosexuals  colleagues and coworkers, that hiding is not only the wrong answer, but that's what makes you a victim.
Feel free to declare you're gay in the first five minutes of conversation.
Scientific studies show that in each unknown relationship  the first three minutes are used to determine the condition of affective bond and mutual sexual interests in a more or less explicit way.
Freedom consists then in the imagination to say peacefully about us, every time, inventing ways more sophisticated or simple, repetitive or creative, depending on our personality.
Often I say that I'm not married because the law does not let me.
At my age, the first question that you do is if you are married, and not make it ever more, and it is a question to which you plead to be gay or you're lying to yourself ... especially, against you and against all the homosexuals people we are still responsible directly or indirectly during our life.

By Andrea Frangioni:

I smile because as usual, the free interpretation in reading permitting different meanings to the same words.
I specify that I quitted "being a champion" six years ago and, thanks for the “young” but I am not such more.
Since I stopped exercising my profession, my relational life around this topic has absolutely remained unchanged: the way I put myself and deal with life is always the same, indeed, even more conscious and determined, so I thank for the advice but it arrives late, I already faced it, I repeat, I do not need external confirmation or denial to recognize myself
I do not know what step of reading has meant that my advice is to hide himself, because I said exactly the opposite; I "recommended" to live normally without having to "come out" or, conversely, get to flaunt. An example taken from you, if they asked me why I'm not married, I would answer in all serenity, saying it does not seem an obligation to get married and that anyway, even if you want, I still have not found my life (male) partner and then, smiling nicely, I might add that anymore is not legally possible; you have different ways of addressing the arguments, that's all.
But then, I'm sorry ....... if they address this question to you and you declare to be gay, what's the problem? Were not simply  declaring the true?
Then, allow me a joke, if  yourinterlocutors  are always turning you this question maybe we should change interlocutors, finding others with more content

I wanted to comment on this statement in a personal way and subjective:
"Scientific studies show that in each unknown relationship  the first three minutes are used to determine the condition of affective bond and mutual sexual interests in a more or less explicit way.."
I am absolutely convinced that life is not just science (in fact you can not explain everything luckily) and there is just as much, fortunately, there is much more and especially relations go beyond those three minutes, however I agree that the mass sometimes stops at those three minutes, yet we are free to choose to let enter in our lives (the real one) that part of people that thinks otherwise.
I repeat it is just my personal way of feeling and living things.
If we recognize in other people's actions or opinions or other something that reflects us, and if that something makes us feel bad, do not are the others to have a problem but only ourselves and only we ourselves have the capability to transform our being in our path of life.
We can go out of the box presetted, do not fighting against a system to which we belong not noticing it, inventing a new system: our own.
I close nicely with a phrase that I have used often in life:
A long time ago the world thought the earth was the center of the universe and that everything else was turning around, then came a guy named Copernicus who said the opposite and everyone labeled him as a crazy man! ...... In the end of games who was suffering from insanity?
Sincerely Yours
Andrea Frangioni
Second rieply from Manlio Converti

YOU WROTE AGAIN: live normally without having to "come out" or, conversely, get to flaunt.
Look, you flaunted and came out of the closet ... but maybe you are  referring to trans people, to gaypride, to crossdressed people, effeminated or masculated ... and this would be ... transphobia or homophobia introjected, moving towards the others despite you did anyway so de facto...
Ah, and I hope you understood that I was talking to my colleagues, thanks to you, and that towards you, since you are older than I realized ... I woukd hhave asked for a date at the most, because I believe in love and ... love must be shouted in the streets ... shared with family and friends,  published in the network, it should be flaunted with large wedding processions and colorful, even only in white... because around love there is such huge rituals you can not say you don't see it just because it feels normal, and instead we are all different...
Feel normal means just come out and show off ... like everyone else ... and even yourself did... because you "flaunted" talking about the fact that you have not found a male companion ... or would you deny it to yourself?
After the first three minutes, I want to reassure you ... you'll continue to talk about yourself and your relationships, wives, sons, husbands ... it would be inhuman not to do it so... as well as do the singles, talking about sex, desire, last failed relationship or the latest conquest ... why would you not do it, is inhuman prohibit all this yourself just for feeling normal....ized.... moreover not to introduce this topic ... This waygay love or gay sex becomes a taboo if it is not expressed with the same affection and with the same reciprocity during conversations with others ... and all of this is dangerous ...

The second doubt I have is that you choose the people with whom you relate ... I can not and do not want to do the same .
I can not do because I am socially active on different fields, environmental, political and social as well as for our rights denied or disavowed ... and of course because I am a doctor and I do not choose the patients or colleagues...
I DO NOT WANT TO DO because this means building a protective niche in wich feel normal, beside the outside world frightens us or ignore us, might mistreat or has really treated us badly ... This mechanism is part of RESILIENCE SYSTEM, but I'm explosive , talkative, altruist and hyperactive ... I want to know everyone and if someone bothers we are gay ... it's better!
They will have the opportunity to learn, to change their mind ... or just to suffer themselfs if their heads are hard on the uptake...
BACK TALKING TO GAY AND LESBIANSCOLLEAGUES  hoping they understand that the talk is made for them also all the previous apparently private message ...
Obviously your patients will ask if you have children or  heterosexuals husbands / wives ... and colleagues will do as well...
how do you answer them?
Is not this IRRESPONSBILE towards your patients even heterosexuals one??
Each heterosexual patient has LGBT friends, relatives and colleagues (many of my patients asked me explicitly whether I was gay or have said assertively: we know you are gay, and for us that's okay) Many others have an LGBT relative they want talk about ...
We are responsible to show a pattern of active efficient social inclusion otherwise  we are showing to have shame and we are reinforcing homophobic stereotypes against THEIR LGBT relatives, friends and colleagues!
WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEM or their LGBT relatives and friends and colleagues ...

And you were too, dear Andrea ... and yet, thanks to this article, despite the nonsense repeated by you and the SILENCED colleagues, what is never a consent, but indifference or undisguised homophobia or introjected one...
I LOVE your small / big contradiction that makes you a wonderful person ... which, I repeat ... I can fall in love ... (but that I can also just be fun with ...;-)

By Andrea Frangioni:

Take from my words all you want, and then build any reasoning  you see to fit in, and make yourself any opinion you prefer around me: this is  freedom as well.
I just think make judgments so peremptory, positive or negative, compared to a person of which you ignore almost everything is a bit presumptuous, but this is my personal opinion.
When you stop being angry (so you appear to me) and find some peace, try to re-read my interview with calm, certainly you will notice that many of the things that you give me are just in your head not in mine.
I CONFIRM that, in my opinion, there are no roads in the absolute right or wrong (I am referring to any personal choice not only homosexuality) to go, there is the uniqueness of themselves (which must be sought and discovered) that "we must" live freely in our own unique way of being.
I thought I was clear, I hope I've been now.

PS. I conclude it nicely, with a smile and a joke that I hope is not taken controversially ........... whether I can or can not be a wonderful person and a contradictory one, before "falling in love" or "fun" try to, in  this case,  to know me and confirm or deny your  points of view towards me ......... maybe that's why I'm not married yet, I live the "experienced" and not of life expectancy.
Sincerely Andrea

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