By Armando Tinoco, Oct 03, 2013 12:16 PM EDT
(PHOTO CREDIT: Facebook/Antonhysenfanpage)
Anton Hysen plays in the lower Swedish soccer leagues, but made a huge impact in the world of sports when he came out in March 2011. He became the second active openly gay player in soccer. "So what? Being gay is not a choice ... I hate it when people say that," the player told CNN. "There's so much ignorance. There's a lack of knowledge. Some people who are homophobic don't even know a gay person. It's all about preconceptions." He continues talking about the appearance and the perception that people have of soccer players, "I hear that football players are supposed to be masculine. I know pleny of straight guys who are more effeminate. That's the illusion that every football player has to be macho and have a model girlfriend. It's not acceptable to be a gay player."
The 22-year-old English born player was one of the few that supported the "Rainbow Laces" campaign, which sent out laces to all 92 soccer clubs in England and 42 in Scotland to support the fight against homophobia. The campaign proved to not be as succesful as planned as clubs where unahppy with a gambling firm that was a sponsor and the lack of notice. "I think it's a good idea," Hysen said. "It's not a big change but it is a step forward. It's the least we can do. We can have lecutres, we can ban people and laces won't change the mind of an idiot. There are a lot of different things we can do -- but this shows some players are ready to show their support. Seeing a professional wearing them is great and gives comfort to gay people who are playing and aren't ready to come out."
Anton has become a sort of spokesperson for gay men in sports, "I always speak from the hear and don't care what I say." His popularity has risen over the past months after he was one of the stars on the Swedish version of "Dancing With The Stars." "In Sweden I get recognized a lot from my football but also from the dancing. I didn't think people would care that much but it's nice," the Utsiktens BK player said. "When I first came out I thought I would be in the newspapers in Sweden for a couple of days and that's it ... I didn't think people would really care to be honest. And then suddenly it went crazy, and within two days the whole world knew, but it feels pretty good. I know that I've done something good with my life. I was just a kid who happened to be gay ... I never thought it would be such a big deal."
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