How Spain is designing a sporting future free of gay hate

LGBT sports organizations around the world continue to play a key role in eliminating homophobia from sport

Continuing our mission to profile the LGBT sports organizations of the world, we meet graphic designer Ricardo Mendi Serrano, communications officer for Elaios LGBT sports club which is based in Spain’s fifth largest city – Zaragoza.

When was the organization established?

Elaios was created after some of us participated at the 2003 edition of Eurogames in Copenhagen.

We wanted to organize something similar in Zaragoza.

Thanks to the support of the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation, Elaios was formally established in February 2005.

In 2007 we were registered as an Elementary Sports Association in the Aragon Government’s registry. We also received support from the City of Zaragoza Sports Department, and some local media.

Since then, every year we have grown in members and in the number of sport activities we organize and take part in at both national and international levels.

In 2012, the City of Zaragoza acknowledged us as an ‘Entity of Public Interest’.

What’s the structure of Elaios?

We currently have eight different sport sections:

  • Volleyball
  • Hiking
  • Tennis
  • ‘Free time’
  • Basketball
  • Fronton (also known as Basque pelota)
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis

How many members do you have?

We are consistently growing and are currently reaching 185 members.

Also, the number of female members is over 32%, a figure well above other Spanish LGBT sport clubs.

Our presence has increased thanks to social networking sites. Our Facebook profile has several sport groups which promote the section’s activities and encourage communication among their members – this has helped to grow our membership.

What are the main things that the organization delivers for its members?

We have five key objectives:

  • To promote sport and to encourage participation in official competitions.
  • To eliminate in sports all discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • To offer a healthy entertainment alternative, promoting health through sports.
  • To encourage the participation of women and members of the trans community.
  • To actively participate in national and international cooperative networks that share our same purpose and values.

What are some of the key areas of focus for Elaios at the moment?

Our current areas of focus include increasing the number of women members, developing activities for young people and improving our communication.

Organizing our annual sports event is also important, and we continue to push for local media coverage as this is important in tackling homophobia and raising the profile of women in sport.

What role does the organization play in tackling homophobia in sport?

Despite social advances in the last few decades, homophobia in sport continues to be a common experience in Spain.

The current image of a sportsman is associated with strength, power and elite fitness abilities – however images of gay men often show the opposite. In addition to this, society’s view towards homosexuality is still very oppressive and prevents gay athletes from disclosing their sexual orientation.

That’s why LGBT sports clubs such as Elaios continue to play an important role in providing a safe atmosphere free of prejudices about sexuality.

As well as offering our members a wide range of sports, we also provide social opportunities and visibility for LGBT sportspeople.

What are some of the key tournaments and events that your members are training for?

Since our creation we have participated in the Jocs Taronja in the region of Valencia, the Juegos del Sol, and the Juegos del Orgullo in Madrid, Panteresports in Barcelona, Live and GLLAM in London, Aquaromae in Rome, Pride Games Masters Tournament in Manchester, Euro Games and Gay Games.

Since April 2006 we have been organizing the annual Cierzo Games in Zaragoza, which keep growing in attendance. In 2013 we celebrated the eighth edition of this event – over 400 athletes registered from across Spain and Europe.

by Gareth Johnson
Source – Gay Star News