Day 25: A Gayer Cup

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

-Luke 2:19

Amid all the celebration, Luke highlights Mary’s deliberate withdrawal from emotional exuberance. Perhaps she is an internal processor. Perhaps, as a woman who freshly pushed a baby from her body, she’s exhausted. Or perhaps she is mindful of the patriarchy that surrounds her as men surround her son. Perhaps she holds back because she knows that even though the baby before her is a salvation, she is not yet saved.

The World Cup gave us a fairy tale ending to one storyline, but there is another that feels vacuous and unsettled. Another men’s World Cup has passed without a single out, gay player (or coach). In spite of the solidarity armbands of Western Europe, the sport remains stunningly heterosexual. The queer fans and players return home to treasure these things in their hearts, holding back the fullness of their families and their joy. 

My one hope, if France had won back-to-back World Cups, was that a world-class player from a country that embraces sexual liberation with two World Cups under his belt might have the confidence–and the reputational buffer–to come out. My best case scenario was a French athlete publicly identifying as queer in the afterglow of all that awe. 

It might have been a pipe dream all along. I don’t actually know if any of the French players identify as queer. But I know in my heart that there are players and staff and ref who are treasuring these things in theirs because they are afraid to be fully themselves in public. Because all the institution has ever done is punish them.

My wish for the 2026 World Cup is that there is less pondering in hearts. More gayness on and off the field. More celebration. I hope that North America 2026 is the gayest men’s World Cup ever–which is to say, I hope there are at least two queer athletes. Or coaches. Or refs. Hell, I’d settle for Gianni Infantino coming out. And being celebrated for it.

In 2026, I hope that those who treasure all of this in their hearts do so because they want to, not because they feel they must.

An intersectional pride flag, with the horizontal rainbow rows punctuated triangles of black, brown, blue, pink, and white, to represent BIPOC and trans communities.
Pride flags are great, but creating cultures of inclusion and affirmation is even better.

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