Literally an ocean separates American and European attitudes toward homoeroticism in sport. At the same time basketball player John Amaechi came out of the closet and Tim Hardaway ranted his disgust and displeasure, another black athlete across the pond uses homoeroticism and his gay fan base to his advantage: Thierry Henry.
The French soccer phenom was just signed by Tommy Hilfiger as the brand's newest spokesmodel and will front global fashion and underwear advertising. Thierry has been interviewed in several European men's fashion (read: gay) magazines, joking about the obvious homoerotic qualities of sport. In the current Numéro hommes, the French fashion bible, the q&a is almost all gayish.
NUMÈRO: Why do you think gay men are so loathe to attending soccer matches?
HENRY: [Laughs] That's the best question I've been asked in asked in a long time! To be honest, I don't know.
NUMÈRO: Is it because they know that the best ball games occur behind closed doors?
HENRY: All I can say is, if I were gay, it certainly wouldn't prevent me from attending a football match. If only to see all those sweaty guys running after each other in shorts!
NUMÈRO: My secretary informs me that your locker room nickname is 'Anaconda'.
HILFIGER: Good question.
HENRY: Who told you that? Your secretary? She must be French. It's my brother's fault ... My brother spilled the beans to a journalist prior to my appearing on a French TV show, and suddenly they started screening clips from the movie Anaconda and asking me to react. I took one look at the screen and explained I couldn't elaborate any further because my mother was watching the show. That kind of cut things short and spared me any embarrassing explanations on the origins of the nickname. But let's get back to why gay men don't go to games. They should go. There's a lot of stuff to see!
An interesting new report at After Elton contextualizes European homoeroticism in sport, especially the more recent fashion editorials and calendars that are borderline gay porn. Celebrated Dutch physique photographer Ewoud Broeksma suggests many European athletes "don't think in terms of gay or straight, probably—they're just boys acting like they are in control of the world."
That's certainly the case here with more teasing from Thierry, who threatens to strip down to his boxer briefs and admits to checking out other guys equipment.
NUMÈRO: What is the procedure immediately after a match? Do all the players share a communal shower or does each have his own little cubicle?
HENRY: We shower together.
NUMÈRO: Do you spend hours under the shower comparing the sizes of your kikis?
HENRY: It depends. If it's been a good game, there is male bonding and camaraderie and joking around galore. It's been known for the team to poke fun at one of the players' quirks or abnormalities.
You have to admire athletes like Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Christiano Ronaldo, or, on the stateside, even a Will Demps. They exude confidence and sexy—and have won fans and endorsements because of their fluid attitudes. And the Tim Hardaways of the world ... well, they are (thankfully) losing endorsements.
The interview is called Tommy v Thierry, and, luckily there is an English-language version. We scanned a PDF which is HERE. Enjoy.
Some Background...Tommy Hilfiger Signs Thierry Henry (Hilfiger) Sexing Up the Male Athlete (After Elton) Inside the Locker Room (Rod 2.0) NBA Reprimands Hardaway (Rod 2.0) Bulging "Pride" (Rod 2.0) The New Man of "Steel" (Rod 2.0) He Scores! (Rod 2.0) Thierry Henry for Pepsi Gold (Rod 2.0) Oh la la Thierry (Rod 2.0) Team USA: Oguchi Onyewu (Rod 2.0) Morning Sports (Rod 2.0) Ronaldinho es Adriano (Rod 2.0) Momento Futebol (Rod 2.0) Shaq and Wade Defend Gays (Rod 2.0) No Coming Out Party for Amaechi (Rod 2.0) News: Will Demps on Gays (Rod 2.0) Rio Ferdinand Apologizes (Rod 2.0)