Cover image for Strong women, deep closets : lesbians and homophobia in sport
Strong women, deep closets : lesbians and homophobia in sport
Griffin, Pat.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Champaign, IL : Human Kinetics, [1998]

Physical Description:
xvii, 245 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV708.8 .G75 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Former athlete and coach Pat Griffin makes a provocative and impassioned call for attention to a topic too long avoided by women's sports advocates. In Strong Women, Deep Closets , she provides a critical analysis of discrimination and prejudice against lesbians in sport.

The book is the first to explore the lesbian sporting experience as well as examine homophobia and heterosexism in women's sport. The work is based on theoretical and historical foundations and is written in an academic yet engaging style. Griffin brings to light the experiences of lesbian coaches and athletes in their own words.

Strong Women, Deep Closets concludes with Griffin's assessment of the current state of lesbians' rights in athletics, set against the overall social picture in the United States. The author lists obstacles lesbian athletes face in transforming sports and details numerous personal and political strategies for leveling the playing field.

Author Notes

Pat Griffin teaches in the social justice education program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She leads classes and workshops on sexism, racism, heterosexism/homophobia, and other forms of social injustice. Her research and writing interests include heterosexism/homophobia in education and athletics, and lesbian and gay teachers and students.

Pat was one of the first people to openly address the issue of homophobia in sport. She has led seminars on heterosexism/homophobia in sport at numerous colleges and universities, as well as at coaches' and athletic administration conferences. She also serves as a media expert for stories on homophobia in athletics. She is the author of numerous journal articles and co-editor of Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook for Teachers and Trainers.

Pat played basketball at the University of Maryland and coached high school basketball in Silver Spring, Maryland. She was a member of the United States Field Hockey squad in 1970-71 and went on to coach swimming at the University of Massachusetts. She won a bronze medal in triathlon at the Gay Games IV in 1994. The recipient of the National Girls and Women in Sport Honor Award in 1994, Pat was elected to the New Agenda Northeast Women's Sport Hall of Fame in 1995.

Pat lives in Belchertown, Massachusetts. Her leisure activities include kayaking, tennis, softball, racquetball, weight training, and reading.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Griffin draws on her experience as a lesbian coach and athlete for this groundbreaking work intended to "challenge the despised sexual predator image" that so often stalks when women and sport come together. She also draws on 15 years of leading various workshops on homophobia in the world of sport, on previously published writings, and, perhaps most important, on interviews with lesbian athletes, coaches, and sports administrators that she conducted specifically for this book. The resulting 11 chapters consider such things as stereotypes old and new that keep many women out of sport; the defenses of institutionalized sport against lesbianism, including silence, heterosexual-image promotion, and downright attacks on lesbians; the role of the Christian right in sport; and identity management for lesbian coaches and athletes. Written in a brisk, readable style, this generously referenced summary of the lesbian sporting life will appeal to readers of serious sports studies as well as lesbian studies. --Whitney Scott

Choice Review

This straightforward, well-researched, and well-written discussion on lesbians and sport pursues several themes. The major contention is that those who oppose women in sport have used the accusation of homosexuality to suppress their participation, pursuit of power, and recognition of achievement. Griffin (Univ. of Massachusetts at Amherst) strongly asserts that sexual orientations other than heterosexuality are acceptable; she further suggests that lesbians currently in sport should not only be "out," but that they owe it to younger athletes and coaches to be out-- but not "too far out" of the closet. Drawing on research, largely anonymous interviews, and personal experience, Griffin leads the reader through carefully crafted chapters to pave a way in transforming women's sport. While one-sided at times in order to make a point (others are criticized for not using the language and terms of which Griffin approves), the book is a powerful argument not only for women's rights but for inclusion and affirmation of all groups in sport. Strongly recommended for upper-division undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, researchers, and practitioners. D. M. Furst San Jose State University

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 My Journey Home
Chapter 2 Sport: Where Men Are Men and Women Are Trespassers
Chapter 3 Damaged Mothers, Muscle Molls, Mannish Lesbians, and Predatory Dykes: 100 Years of Scaring Women out of Sport
Chapter 4 Leering, Leching, and Low Down: Demonizing Lesbians in Sport
Chapter 5 Full Court Press: Defending Women's Sport Against the Lesbian Boogeywoman
Chapter 6 Life in the Shadow of the Lesbian Boogeywoman: The Climate for Lesbians in Sport
Chapter 7 We Prey, They Pray? Lesbians and Evangelical Christians in Sport
Chapter 8 The Culture of the Closet: Identity-Management Strategies of Lesbian College Coaches and Athletes
Chapter 9 Unplayable Lies: Lesbians in Sport Choosing Truth
Chapter 10 Love and Community in the Locker Room: Double Trouble or Double Standards?
Chapter 11 Opening Minds, Opening Closet Doors: Transforming Women's Sport