By Sean Kosofsy
Ok, sports fans and sports avoiders, the Super Bowl is finally here.
We have seen the construction, we have been sold on the hype and now potentially tens of thousands of people and millions of dollars will be pouring into our local economy. New stores and restaurants are opening, some roads and buildings have received a face-lift and now it is time to put our best face forward.
The GLBT community will play a critical role in how people perceive Detroit when they are here and how they talk about us when they return home. Visitors will notice the nightlife, the culture, the music and dining, but most of all they will remember the people.
Super Bowl XL (Forty) presents tremendous opportunities for Detroit in terms of development, investment, tourism and just plain fun. But the week long Superbowlapalooza will also present some real challenges to Detroit’s GLBT community.
With all the sports fans, athletes, trainers, coaches, groupies, adrenaline, testosterone and other hormones coming to town, we should be conscious of what this could mean. Although we shouldn’t stereotype, it has been my experience that professional sports and sporting events are ripe opportunities for “group think,” hyper-masculinity and homophobia. There will be a lot of drinking and some drug use and certainly a lot of revelry. Folks will be splurging on big fancy parties and every hotel will be packed. It will be party time.
These conditions usually mean a lot of sex, increased prostitution and escort services and even a dramatic increase in “cruising.” Websites and pick up areas will be jumping, which presents opportunities for hustlers and predators to take advantage of GLBT people. The police and law enforcement presence in our “border city” will also be magnified. Hopefully everything will go off without a hitch, but we should all be careful and alert to what this event means. Triangle Foundation even sent an email to community members drawing attention to this sporting event and what they may anticipate during the next few weeks.
It was not too long ago that Detroit Lions President Matt Millen made national news when he called a Kansas City football player a “faggot” in the locker room. There were cries for him to apologize and fear that the sports industry would earn a reputation for homophobia. The incident was covered on sports programs and in sports sections of daily newspapers around the country. Detroit can do better and should not be known for such homophobia.
That is why Triangle Foundation is doing something that has never been done before – something to give Detroit a cutting edge and creative reputation for GLBT hospitality during the Super Bowl. For several days, Triangle will host the first-ever “GLBT Welcome Center” at the Super Bowl.
We want to encourage GLBT athletes, trainers, coaches, chiropractors, fans, tourists, groupies or even local residents to come and enjoy the festivities in the comfortable and inclusive environment. We are going to encourage any NFL Players that are gay to “come out” while here in Detroit. If we can make history by having the first official gay Welcome Center, then athletes can make history and use the global media opportunity to shatter the stereotypes about being GLBT in professional sports. Hopefully events like this can help loosen the grip of homophobia on the world of professional football.
We think this opportunity will be well received by the NFL, the media, and certainly GLBT sports fans. It also gives us a chance to shine a light on the dark reality of the locker room closet. GLBT people have contributed a great deal to professional sports and we need to be more visible. With high profile athletes like Sheryl Swoopes coming out in the WNBA and Billy Bean and Dave Kopay as former Detroit professional athletes, we can trigger another shift forward with positive support for our GLBT sports heroes and sheroes. For more information on Welcome Center times and location contact [email protected]