“Macho” Filipino men may be all about basketball but one of the Philippine Basketball Association’s players just schooled everyone that seeing beyond sexual orientation is way cooler than sticking to old gender norms.
In an Instagram story yesterday, Filipino-German basketball player Arnold Van Opstal said that “labeling sexuality is a joke” after someone asked him if he was “part of the LGBT+ [community].”
In a lengthy reply, he said that he is “straight” but supports the LGBT+ community and thinks that labeling one’s sexual identity is pointless.
“My brother is ‘gay’, a lot of my good friends are ‘gay’ however I am ‘straight’,” he said.
“The whole game of labelling sexuality is a joke.”
Van Opstal said that “everyone deserves to be their own authentic selves without having to fear the judgement (sic) of others.”
This response came as a surprise to many, especially because homosexuality is rarely discussed by Filipino athletes.
He even mentioned this in his post, saying that he thinks other athletes are not doing enough to address the homophobia that is rampant in sports.
“I feel like athletes are not doing enough to address the homophobia that is very apparent in sports due to the fear of judgment set by their peers and coaches,” he said. “Equality comes from all aspects not just race and I’m happy to stand up for equality.”
“All homophobes and racists can go f*ck themselves,” he ended his post.
Television host and actor Vice Ganda, who identifies as gay, saw Van Opstal’s post and said it was the first time he encountered a Filipino athlete “boldly speak about [the] LGBTQ+ community and homophobia.”
“Hope everyone including your fellows in your sport sees this post,” Vice Ganda added.
Netizens also expressed their gratitude through social media, hoping that others would take cue from Van Opstal’s statement:
Twitter user @g3cafe reposted the photo saying: “Be like Arnold Van Opstal.”
@jknnthbereached wrote: “ARNOLD VAN OPSTAL SUPPORTING [the] LGBTQ [community] AND SHUTTING [down] JUDGMENTAL HOMOPHOBES! #LoveWins”
— JK Lasheras (@jknnthbereached) July 15, 2018
“Arnold Van Opstal is one of the good man (sic) with a good heart because he knows the value (sic) meaning of RESPECT in life. This is not about the gender nor is this about the sport. but this is more on about how you defined (sic) the RESPECT of every game, belief, culture, life & the GENDER.”
Arnold Van Opstal is one of the good man with a good heart because he knows the value meaning of RESPECT in life. This is not about the gender nor this is not about the sport but this is more on about how you defined the RESPECT of every game, belief, culture, life & the GENDER. https://t.co/X6YYEgeBuc
— Charger Power! (@charger_2126) July 16, 2018
“So much love for you @Arnoldvanopstal for fearlessly spoking (sic) out about LGBTQ+ community,” Twitter user @johnvibeesxs shared.
So much love for you @Arnoldvanopstal for fearlessly spoking out about LGBTQ+ community ❤❤
— BRAM (@johnvibeesxs) July 15, 2018
Another user by the handle @dannnlouise wrote: “I love Arnold Van Opstal already!”
— Dannie (@dannnlouise) July 15, 2018
While the Philippines still has a long way to go when it comes to accepting the LGBT+ community, you’ve got to give props to the guy for raising awareness.