Is it "About Time" or a "Fantasy World?" Fans, discourse, & deciding if "Coming Out Matters" in women's soccer

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Soccer fans debating the meaning and significance of coming out; for some fans acknowledgement meant being able to share this information, while others suggest coming out, and representation, will …

Soccer fans debating the meaning and significance of coming out; for some fans acknowledgement meant being able to share this information, while others suggest coming out, and representation, will always matter. Coming out still matters, but in some unexpected ways for this fandom.

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  • 1. IS IT “ABOUT TIME” OR A “FANTASY WORLD?” FANS, DISCOURSE,AND DECIDING IF “COMING OUT MATTERS” IN WOMEN’S SOCCER Not Whether But In What Ways Meghan Ferriter, Ph.D. Lavender Languages 21 15 February 2014
  • 2. ABBY WAMBACH + SARAH HUFFMAN
  • 3. + The Fandom…
  • 4. TIMELINE & RESPONSES • Late September and earlier - quiet rumblings about engagement - “discussed” in folksonomic tags or anons • Bachelor(ette) Party in Vegas - • Tweets by attendees heading to Hawaii • SoccerWire, TMZ, & HRC announces wedding with congratulations • Abby Wambach acknowledges congrats via Tweet • Abby Wambach gives interview that in part discusses marriage and identity
  • 5. HRC Tweets (too soon?)
  • 6. CRITICISM OF THE TIMING • Was she outed? Why silent? • Reading too much fanfic? Magazine retractions • Tweets: Social Media & Digital lives intersect • Also, not ENOUGH coverage - relegated to gossip not sports news
  • 7. BUT, ABOUT TIME Recurring themes in comments & notes: •finally •it’s about time, ladies •THIS. / what it should be / just being •(i knew it) / no coming out needed •“this is brand new information” (sarcasm) •yay!/ Congrats Abby & Sarah! / so happy/ proud of her
  • 8. NOT A CASE OF “I’M HOMOSEXUAL… HEAR ME ROAR” • Fandom divided on response to Wambach’s interview in which she described herself as not like that, private, levelheaded and comfortable with herself in a society that is “past that* now” - suggesting a post-homophobic society
  • 9. FAN RESPONSE • Wambach described as: a hero, a role model, with incredible integrity, too adorable, an awesome human being, literally the best person in the world • Also as: bullshit comments, belittling, denying, talking about a fantasy world, not being aware of privilege, a load of shit dumped on a community that has supported her and her sport for years…
  • 10. POST-HOMOPHOBIC SOCIETY BULLSHIT
  • 11. A FANTASY WORLD • Pt1: Discussing & experiencing sexuality is as personal as decisions to come out • Pt 2:“She’s talking about the world the way we want it to be” - we can’t just live • Pt 3: “She’s OUT” - though Wambach actively resisted this event as “coming out”
  • 12. LEARNING MOMENTS
  • 13. LEARNING MOMENTS
  • 14. LEARNING MOMENTS: POWER & SEXUALITY
  • 15. #REPRESENTATION WILL ALWAYS MATTER Both perspectives acknowledge • the power and significance of being out (or at least to some) • that it’s a matter of timing and framing (over which they disagree) • that saying it and doing it are different: language - naming - articulation • that representation matters - as role models, as “strong women,” as USWNT, for the future
  • 16. THANK YOU! Yes Pls #GETINTOUCH Meghan Ferriter ferriterm@si.edu @MeghaninMotion http://meghaninmotion.com