Tuesday, May 20, 2008

There Is Nothing At All Wrong With It, But It's Still Very Funny

There is a gay man playing soccer at the highest level in Brazil. He has represented Brazil (although many people, myself among them, believe that he isn't a good enough player for the Seleção). While I and the vast majority of Brazilians really don't care that he is gay, and don't believe he should have to suffer for it, the way he keeps getting outed (despite continually denying being gay) is really, really funny. (And, I should add, really, really sad. This guy has it pretty rough.)

A while back, rumors began circulating that there was a gay player at one of São Paulo's three big teams (Corinthians, Palmeiras, and São Paulo). On national television Milton Neves (who is a horrible person, but that's neither here nor there) asked one of the Palmeiras directors, José Cyrillo Júnior, if the gay player (whose name was still unknown) played for Palmeiras. The Palmeiras director replied, "We almost signed Richarlyson."

However much parts of this make me laugh, it IS serious. Richarlyson, who plays for São Paulo, sued the Palmeiras director for his comment. The judge, Maximiano Junqueira Filho, stated that "accepting gay players hasn't been shown to be reasonable because it would harm the uniformity of thought of the team, the coordination, the equilibrium, the ideal." Inadvertently, the judge gave tremendous aid to the cause of gay rights in Brazil. He was investigated by the Tribunal da Justiça, and his comments got more (negative) coverage than the original comments that Cyrillo Júnior made. (His decision, in Portuguese, is here. It is jaw-droppingly, laugh out loud stupid. It reads like something from Stephen Colbert's book. Brazilian judges have to pass a public exam, against serious and qualified competition. How did this man outperform thousands and thousands of other attorneys?) The judge was investigated by the Tribunal da Justiça, but I haven't yet located the results of the investigation.

So, that brings us up to last weekend, when this happened.

Last Saturday night Richarlyson was spotted in a gay club in São Paulo, wearing a hat, jewel-encrusted glasses, and short shorts. Well, that should put the question to rest, shouldn't it? Richarlyson will continue playing, he will open the minds of more than a few Brazilians, and hopefully he will just admit that he's gay and stop embarrassing himself. There is nothing at all wrong with his being gay, nor with his being a gay soccer player, but when he steps on the ball like this it sure does make me laugh.

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