BJJ Poll: Do Any Gay People Train at Your BJJ Academy?

by Caleb on February 13, 2010


I received this suggestion for a poll back in early January from Ross, who has been our most prolific source for poll ideas since we began our weekly BJJ Poll feature on our site. I knew that sooner or later this topic would come up and it did not take very long. Just this week Slideyfoot posted an article on his site about some of the general context of how homosexuality is viewed in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so I figured it’s as good a time as any to post this one.

If you have any interesting stories on homosexuality and BJJ, feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post. Keep it respectful!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

ayo4yayo February 13, 2010 at 10:45 am

Honestly I wouldn’t care if there were gay people training at my Academy. Its all about bringing the best out of everyone’s ground game

Aaron February 13, 2010 at 11:07 am

I’ve discussed this with people before, and the big question I have is, what does it matter? If you’re rolling with a woman, is it a sexual thing? If so, YOU have a problem, not her. For 99% of people though, it’s just another training partner. But for people’s social hangups, what’s the big deal?

BJJMonkey February 13, 2010 at 11:10 am

By gay here, do you mean both gay men and women? I know of some women who are gay that train at our academy, but there are no gay men as far as I know.

In any case, once you start rolling and people try to choke each other and break each others arms, sexual orientation doesn’t really matter.

I’ve rolled with hot girls and hopefully treated them the same way I treat everyone else, but YMMV.

Radhames Jr February 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Hopefully this poll attracts a mature audience.
But I have never known of a gay person training bjj before.
If you were to ask me if I cared, I would tell you No I dont
care whether a a person is gay or not, everyone needs self defense.

Come train, Just dont confuse the training is all I ask.

David Booth February 13, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I usually submit an answer to the fightworks podcast polls, but I can’t answer this one – not for any political reason or hangup – I can’t answer because I don’t know.

I don’t know the sexuality of most of my teammates. I could ask or make assumptions, but I really don’t care.

jay February 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm

I am gay and I train. I have never had an issue with anyone. I am at the academy to train and get better.

Meerkatsu February 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm

I’m glad this topic has been raised. Mainly because it gives a forum for some sensible and mature responses. ie I think the vast majority of BJJ practitioners really do not care if someone their academy is gay. And indeed this is how it should be in a normal civilised society. But the homophobic rants you sometimes read on forums can make BJJ and MMA seem biased towards that view when it really isn’t.

BTW I have no idea if anyone in my academy is gay. Jiu-jitsu is for everyone.

mlambie February 13, 2010 at 9:48 pm

I’d like to see this poll develop into a larger discussion – are there any prominent gay jiu–jitsu players out there that could be interviewed for their experiences and thoughts?

I am a strong believer in gay rights and have a homosexual brother. I know that at our club, there’s plenty of joking around regarding sexuality, but I think if there were any openly gay people that it would stop, or at least get reigned in. I also think that being an Australian club, we tend to ridicule ourselves as part of our sense of humour, and no doubt jiu jitsu and rolling around on the floor with other blokes would incite gay jokes in circles outside the club, so it’s probably an extension of our Australian humour rather than anything else.

I wonder if that makes jiu jitsu less accessible for gay people, either in their minds, or in actuality.

Great poll question!

Dolph February 15, 2010 at 5:18 am

Been training for a little over seven years (purple belt) and have been casually out about being gay. By casually out, I mean that I don’t find ways to bring the subject up, but I also don’t hide it in any way. Some examples include:

* Bringing my partner to school social events and interacting with him the same way I would in any other public setting (introducing him as my partner, using we/our to refer to trips, home, etc).

* If folks who first meet me ask a question about my wife (we wear wedding bands), I simply say “My partner Frank…” and finish answering the question.

* The about me section of my training blog mentions my partner by name.

Essentially, I treat being gay the same way most of my teammates treat being straight. It’s part of their life that has nothing to do with training but becomes known as you build social ties with folks at your gym.

rowdy February 15, 2010 at 6:46 am

you can all start the torches burning for me with what i am about to say, but…….

i would probably be much more concerned with the body fluids i am exposed to and any open cuts i might have. just like if i thought i was rolling with an iv drug user. certain categories of folks are proven to be at a greater risk for things. things i dont want introduced into me.

rolling can be disgusting enough as it is sometimes with the amount of sweat and ‘things’ people bring to the mat as far as mrsa, staph, ringworm and such.

if you’re on the mat and your not a spaz, you have my respect and i’ll gladly roll with you.

but the first person who makes me sick in any way is gonna get choked the heck out!

Ross Finlayson February 15, 2010 at 7:03 pm

@David Booth: If you don’t know whether or not any of your team mates are gay (and you’re straight yourself), then just choose the first answer; that’s what that answer is for.

I would also choose the first answer – which is surprising, considering that I train in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there are a lot of openly gay people. (Statistically, I’m sure that some of my team mates must be gay, but personally, I have no interest in knowing who they might be. I figure that nothing worthwhile could come from this knowledge, so it’s not something I think about.)

I suggested this poll question to Caleb because I wanted to see if I could come up with a question more controversial than last year’s “marijuana” question. I’m glad to see a lot of sensible comments posted so far; I was a bit scared that this might turn into a flame fest. (Right now, though, 35% of poll responders describe themselves as gay, which is *much* higher than I expected. I hope the ‘matbattle’ crowd are not making an organized effort to flood the poll.)

Romeo February 15, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I’m gay and I don’t hide it. However, I don’t tell anyone unless they ask.

Caleb February 15, 2010 at 10:27 pm

I do think there has been some messing around with the poll results that would explain the unexpectedly high 35% of respondents describing themselves as gay. I saw the analytics for the poll data and noticed, for example, that one IP address had voted the “I am gay, but do not tell other people at my academy about my sexual orientation” option 14 times. I have removed that person’s votes.

Caleb February 16, 2010 at 10:16 am

Hey gang,

My hunch was correct. A group of folks from an online forum with instructions to vote the gay options in this poll were coming over here and skewing the results. As it’s impossible for me to know exactly which votes were theirs so they could be removed, I just closed the poll.

It’s a shame because this would have been good information. But whaddayagonnado. We tried.

Ann February 17, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Too bad about closing the poll. I am hetero woman, began BJJ partly because Ex was bothering me, and I was feeling nervous around ALL men because of it. Well, it worked, I have self-assurance! However, people assumed I was gay woman when I started. Sigh. Am feminine enough off the mat, but came to school events alone. I am dating a man in another city now, secure in that relationship- oh- and don’t care what anyone thinks. I think guys are more nervous than I am about rolling, but I spent years rock and ice climbing so the close proximity is not new to me. Maybe it’s my conservative community, but what’s with the ‘tude that if I roll I am gay?

Ann February 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm

If I may add- Only respect of the topic intended. I train where I do because of the enormous respect received and that is a Gracie Academy- other places fell short in that aspect. Thanks

Paul March 3, 2010 at 12:15 pm

It really doesn’t surprise me that some people would try to manipulate a poll discussing BJJ and homosexuality. I rarely read the comments on youtube anymore because the bigots and homophobes are always the most vocal and usually don’t have any respect for grapplers anyway. I guess, in their minds, a physical confrontation only involves physical contact on their own tearms. Anyway, my academy has quite a few female students (my wife included) and none of them feels uncomfortable about rolling with the opposite sex. Get over it and move on….

Paul March 3, 2010 at 12:23 pm

By the way…..I think people who compete with tattoos of swastikas should not be allowed to compete without a frigging shirt on. …

jarred November 29, 2010 at 1:44 am

I’m not gay but i m pretty sure there are a lot of homosexuals in jiu jitsu, but like its been said when two guy are tring to break each others arms I think the last thing on anyones mind is weather or not one of them is gay, but I do have problems rolling with girls somtimes, somtimes I become turned on but the girls I roll against don’t really threaten me with there jits. But if I were to act upon my instinctual feelings about them I think that would be as inapropriate as two gay guys doing the same

Tomas November 15, 2011 at 7:52 am

@ rowdy You are entitled to your opinion as you are to educate yourself about what diseases have been proven to exist. Much of the scientific community reject HIV as a mere theory for which there is insufficient evidence and site other causes for AIDS symptoms. Nevertheless surely it is somebody’s lifestyle and not there preferences which affect the level of pathogens they carry. If you are afraid of catching something better to improve your immune system then maintain such an aggressive point of view. The fact is that men who like men are as diverse as men who like women. There are plenty of gay martial artists and athletes just like there are plenty of straight male ballet dancers. Unfortunately in a fighting environment, where there are people expressing opinions such as your own, it can be difficult to be open about it.

@ anyone turned on by Jiu Jitsu … you’re not training hard enough!

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