Another day, another homophobic incident in the world of sports.
This time it revolves around soccer player Junior Flemmings, who now finds himself suspended from his next six games with The Phoenix Rising after he was accused of targeting a gay competitor with a homophobic slur. The United Soccer League announced their decision on October 6.
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I’ve always been a man of faith but growing up as a closeted gay man in the Episcopal Church it was tough to imagine a world where I belonged, let alone a world where I could live my truth. Athletes like me are told to keep quiet about politics but I refuse to sit on the sidelines when my community is under attack, especially by politicians who use faith as an excuse to discriminate. That’s why I’m proud to endorse @pete.buttigieg for president. Pete’s proven that he’s got the experience and ability to communicate his message of unity and inclusion in even the most difficult of spaces. Now more than ever, we need a president who will protect and defend LGBTQ rights as if they were his own. Pete represents a new generation of leadership that our country deserves. I’m so proud to back Pete’s historic campaign and to see an openly gay man of faith welcomed on that 2020 debate stage for exactly who he is.
It stemmed from a game between Flemmings’ team and The San Diego Loyal on September 30. One of the Loyal’s teammates, Collin Martin, is openly gay. He came out in 2018 and remains the only active gay player in any of the four major U.S. sports.
Martin was apparently at the receiving end of a homophobic slur from Flemmings who called him a “batty boy” near the end of the game’s first half. The phrase is a derogatory term for gay men in Jamaica, the country where Flemmings hails from.
The situation for Flemmings goes beyond his suspension. His team announced that he will be placed on administrative leave for the remainder of his contract, which is due to expire on November 30. He is likely to not be resigned. Flemmings also faces an undisclosed fine for the matter.
Landon Donovan to Phoenix Rising coach Rick Schantz: "What do you mean this isn't a big deal? We have to get this out of our game."
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) October 1, 2020
When Flemmings was not removed at the start of the 2nd half … Donovan’s Loyal team took a knee and then left the field. They were in a good position at that point to win as the Loyal’s led by 3-1.
— Michael Lewis (@Soccerwriter) October 6, 2020
Flemmings, who initially denied the matter, has deleted his Twitter and made his Instagram private in the days that followed.