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Brazilian soccer players are removing the gay stigma from the number 24

Brazilian soccer players are removing the gay stigma from the number 24.
Photo credit:
Esporte Interativo

As America mourns the loss of basketball star Kobe Bryant, Brazil has taken the tragedy and made it into something positive for the LGBT community. 

There is an anti-homophobia campaign that is currently in play that takes Bryant's retired Lakers number 24 and charged it with inclusion and inspiration. 

In Brazilian soccer, according to Queerty, the number 24 is associated with an illegal numbers game. In that game 24 represents the deer which also represents homosexuality.

For fear of being associated with being gay, players do not use the number because fans may subject them to bullying. 

In a recent Reuters storyCorner, a football magazine, and the Bahia soccer club are trying to reverse the stigma of the number and sharing images with players donning the number online using the hashtag #PedeA24 (Ask for 24).

“Football can be a channel to accentuate the worst of our society, such as racism, aggression, violence and intolerance, but it can also be used in different ways, for culture, affection, sensibility and to improve human relations," said Bahia’s president Guilherme Bellintani.

Bahia’s midfielder Flávio Medeiros da Silva, aka Flávio, is the first player to adopt the iconic number and he says he will continue to wear it. 

“I think it’s very silly that nobody uses the number 24 in Brazil," said Flávio. "We have to respect everyone, regardless of gender, race and sexual option,” the player said.

Last Sunday, Bryant, 41, perished in a helicopter accident along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna (‘Gigi’). Seven others died in the crash.