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'We have to say it loud and clear': Antoine Dupont stands up against homophobia

French scrum-half Antoine Dupont takes part in a training session in Madrid, on May 30, 2024 ahead of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Madrid tournament. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP) (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Antoine Dupont never ceases to surprise, even off the pitch. We still remember him posing half-naked on the Dieux du Stade calendar in 2020 or on the cover of GQ Magazine in a yellow bathrobe in 2022.

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This Wednesday, he will appear on the front cover of Têtu, a queer news and culture magazine and the most widely read LGBT+ publication in France.

The headline: “No more taboos or shame”. In portraying this 27-year-old totem of French rugby, the magazine has achieved a master stroke.

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“If you’re working on issues of inclusion, rugby is a good environment to look at,” it says, citing teams such as Les Gaillards (world champions in the Bingham Cup organised by International Gay Rugby) and the ‘Let’s tackle homophobia’ programme launched by the Ligne Nationale de Rugby (LNR) in 2020.

The importance of rugby’s inclusive values

Arguably the most famous French player in the world, Antoine Dupont has not hesitated to take a stand against homophobia because of the values of respect and inclusion that he believes are fundamental to rugby and society as a whole.

Appearing on the cover of the magazine will expose him again, but it’s a calculated move, he insists. “We just have to get over it and not be afraid of the backlash, because we just want to help end homophobia in our sport,” he says.

Antoine Dupont LGBT+ Tete homophobia

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“I am very relaxed about it, which is why I accepted it straight away, knowing that I would be teased a bit.

“As long as the message has an impact, that’s the most important thing. And if the teasing makes people talk more about the article, that’s even better!”

In an environment dominated by virility, he is surprised that only one French rugby player – Rouen’s Jérémy Clamy-Edroux, who came out in the Canal + documentary ‘Faut qu’on parle’ (‘We need to Talk’) in 2021 – is openly gay.

“I doubt there’s [only] a single gay player on the pitch! Even though rugby can be seen as macho, we’re very open-minded and I think today we’re all able to accept each other’s sexual orientations,” says Antoine Dupont, who hopes other players will feel able to come out openly.

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Beyond the stereotypes of masculinity

“That’s another reason why I try to communicate on this issue, because those who hide it must be having a hard time. You have to tell them there’s nothing to worry about. I think the attitudes are there, so we have to say it loud and clear.

“I think that it is also our responsibility, as players, team-mates or opponents, to speak out and show that there is no problem for us, that we accept everyone.

“So, we really need to keep repeating it, we need to communicate about it so that everybody is comfortable with it.”

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