Jérémy Clamy-Edroux

Jérémy Clamy-Edroux unmarks himself from the taboos of the rugby world! Tackling homophobia out in the field and on TV

«The former tight-head prop of Pro D2’s Rouen Normandie Rugby is the first French rugby player still active to speak publicly about his homosexuality. He decided to come out along with other 6 athletes in the documentary “Faut qu'on parle” [We need to talk]. A conversation with the player that keeps breaking down taboos both in the media and in everyday life.«

In the press, journalists introduce you as “the first French professional rugby player to speak openly about his homosexuality.” Do you feel you’re the new face of the LGBTQI+ community in the rugby world?

I never intended to carry the “gay rugbier” flag. I’m not the only one, there’s other players who wave their colors proudly out in the field. It’s just that, since they don’t play at a professional level, their coming out has had less of an impact. My teammates have always known about my homosexuality, but in 2021 I had the chance to open up about it before all of France in “Faut qu'on parle,” a documentary about homosexuality in French sports produced by Canal+. When it aired, it marked a new stage in my life. I started visiting schools, businesses and training centers to talk about diversity. That’s how I feel useful —through education. Touching the lives of people that haven’t necessarily had access to these kinds of talks, this kind of information. So that they can have a role model. On the other hand, the image I project to them challenges many of the stereotypes they may have about homosexuality —because of my body, the sport I play, the color of my skin, my hair and my earnestness. The message carries, it is heard. And I tell myself that, if there’s still people who kill or discriminate against someone from our community, it’s because that message hasn’t been received or understood by everyone. That’s why it’s important to keep spreading the word. Heterosexual people don’t get frowned upon on the street, they aren’t harassed or killed when they walk holding hands with their partners. However, this still happens to LGBTQI+ people. That’s what I’m fighting for! I do it so that difference can be accepted instead of rejected! 

“When I was younger, I didn’t have any role models, no one to follow, no one to identify with.”

The new generation of athletes can rely on role models like you to assert themselves. This wasn’t the case a few years ago. Do you think media coverage is necessary to change things out in the field?

Absolutely, and that’s why I participated in this documentary —because when I was younger I didn’t have any role models, no one to follow, no one to identify with. So at a personal level, it gave me a chance to help make this matter more visible, to tell young rugby players, whether homosexual or not, that they can practice any sport while being true to themselves, and that everything is going to be alright. I was shocked at the impact Canal+’s broadcast had. I received lots of messages of support, congratulations and positive remarks from fathers and mothers, young people from every social class and adults who would have liked to hear something like that 20 years ago. I believe the world of rugby is more tolerant compared to other disciplines. Even players from rival teams have congratulated me out in the field, and also personnel and presidents. I received support from my fans. So I’m very happy I was part of this documentary, although I was doubtful at first. I was greatly supported by the team and the other 5 athletes who gave their testimony. It’s the power of doing things collectively!

The same power that helped you come out to your father?

I really hadn’t planned on coming out to him on TV, but I hadn’t plucked up the courage to say it to his face before that. My father is a shy man. Deep down, he’d already suspected it, though he hoped he was wrong. In the documentary, before my part comes Amandine Buchard’s, an olympic champion in Judo who’s from the Antilles, like me. She narrates her mother’s rejection when she came out as a lesbian. From that moment on —that was in 2017—, they haven’t had any contact. It was awful for Amandine. Her words moved my father. After hers, comes my testimony, where I talk to my father and announce I am gay, and say that I don’t want the same thing to happen between us, I don’t want to lose them. I feel very proud of having participated in that documentary. We watched it together, on Father’s Day. It was June 21st 2021. Happy Father’s Day, dad! (laughs)..

“It all comes down to education.”

In order to be a tight-head prop in a rugby team, you need to show great physical and mental strength. Would you say the hardest blows you’ve received have been on or off the field?

Off the field, I used to hide, I escaped reality pretending I was heterosexual, then bisexual. A double life that could have affected my athletic performance. Fortunately, I’ve always kept good company, which has allowed me to perform well on the field. If you waste your time hiding something, trying to get everyone to like you or to fit into a certain ideal, all the energy you put into hiding is energy you lose out in the field. After the documentary aired, I was lucky enough to rub shoulders with the crème de la crème of French rugby, with ministers, the president of the Republic, the president of the French Rugby Federation and the president of the National Rugby League —and they all gave me their support. But out in the field I spotted some jealousy. My teammates made comments that annoyed me, until I answered one of them: “You do know that I’m the star because I told all of France I like to suck cock, don’t you? Why don’t you try it?” And then I went back to being Jérémy, the rugby mate.

And what do you think about Grindr sponsoring Biarritz Olympique?

It’s a commercial partnership, like with any other brand printing its logo into a rugby shirt. It’s really good that a French club in the Basque Country, a club that championed France’s Top 14 several times, contributes to fighting against homophobia in a region where attitudes can be a little more conservative. It’s a dating app like any other. After Natixis —which supports Hauts-de-Seine’s Racing 92— and Altrad —supporting Le XV de France—, it’s one of the biggest commercial partnerships in rugby. It’s just that the app has a lot of users! (laughs).

It’s still very common to hear homophobic expressions like “We’re not sissies!” during training… In your opinion, how can we rethink our approach to physical activity in order to build a sport that is truly open to everyone?

It all comes down to education. I’ve heard the phrase “we’re not sissies” so many times unfortunately came to normalize it. But there comes a time when you can’t accept these kinds of comments anymore. So I started answering “I am!”, so that the other person will feel uncomfortable and be forced to rethink what he’s saying. We need to reeducate people. What do you mean by sissy? Weak? Unskilled? You’re wrong. If you still have any doubts, come out to the field with me and I’ll show you that I, a sissy, can beat you! And if you're an educator, you can’t say things like “you run like a girl!” or “my sister runs faster than you.” We need to stop using these inappropriate and baseless expressions, so that players and amateur athletes who haven’t come out yet or feel somehow different can finally feel included!

Her numbers:

  • 3 The number of his team shirt.
  • 9 The age he was when he first played rugby.
  • 1991 The year he was born.
  • 15 The age he was when he came out.
  • 1 The year he spent on the Under-21 team in Racing 92.


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