By Elliot Moore Sports Intern at GLAAD.org
There has been a lot of media attention recently on the strides being made within the world of athletics to create a more inclusive environment for LGBT identifying athletes, coaches, and fans. There are already many out professional women’s athletes and, although there are no out professional male athletes, the time has never been better for one to make their sexual orientation public. Yet, homophobia and misconceptions do still exist within the professional and collegiate sports world. Michiel Thomas, however, is trying to change that.
Thomas grew up in the area around Brussels, Belgium. A fantastic basketball player, he was once selected to play in the youth reserve for the Belgian First Division team Bree, even logging playing time against the National Championship winning Oostende squad. He also happens to be gay. After working in Los Angeles for a few years, he decided to use his experience as a video journalist to address the issues involving the coming out process for LGBT identifying professional and amateur athletes. That was how his documentary Game Face first came about. Production on the documentary has already begun and aims to explore LGBT athletes that still compete. In a video about the documentary posted online by Thomas, he discusses the fact that even though athletes are starting to come out, they are doing it after their careers are over. This needs to change seems to be the inspiration behind making the documentary for Thomas. He has stated:
“Some people still feel uncomfortable about having LGBT athletes in sports, and this is the perfect opportunity to finally break all stereotypes, by following professional and college LGBT athletes during their careers. With Game Face, we can shed light on the masses by debunking the myths and misgivings of the LGBT community and athletes.”
He began the process of making the documentary earlier in the year and released a short preview with transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox after her story obtained national media attention. According to OutSports Michiel is currently documenting the life of a closeted college athlete in a major sport for the project. This documentary may provide information on the day to day struggles LGBT identifying athletes face just for choosing to take part in organized sports and actual instances within the film of LGBT people who compete, overcome obstacles, and sometimes thrive in athletics provides a guide for other athletes who have yet to come out. A young football or basketball or soccer player may see this and gain the courage they need to come out and be open. No person should feel dissuaded from participation in a sport or from being part of a team because of their sexual orientation.
Michiel Thomas has started a fundraising campaign to help raise money for the production of the documentary. With different donation levels that range from DVD’s, to a dinner with an athlete, to producer credit; there are many different ways to get involved with this illuminating film.