‘The color of your skin, sexual orientation, gender and weight don’t matter here provided that you’re working together to become stronger on the pitch and in life in general’.
Unlike regular sports teams, the Berlin Bruisers welcome tall, short, fat, thin, gay, trans and heterosexual players, the majority of whom had never been near a rugby ball before. There are about twenty nationalities among the forty or so members, a multiculturalism typical of this team, reflecting in fact the fabric of the city of Berlin itself.
This team is not afraid to sweep stereotypes aside, particularly in terms of the representation of masculinity in sport. The only requirement is sharing the values of equality, tolerance, teamwork and co-existing. Every member finds kindness and fraternity here that may be lacking within their own community or entourage. The Berlin Bruisers originated in April 2012 with players of all levels. Today they participate in gay and non-gay tournaments, train twice a week and moved up to Division 3 in a country where rugby is not a mainstream sport. Their story is inspiring beyond the LGBTQ community, as it is primarily about ordinary people.
I came across the Bruisers through an algorithm on Instagram. Intrigued by their journey and the progressive values conveyed, I went to Berlin to meet this original genesis. This was followed in June 2018 by a trip to Amsterdam, home to the Bingham Cup – the equivalent of the World Cup of gay rugby – as well as two other trips to Berlin during which I forged closer links with some of the players who became the protagonists of this story.
The Bruisers shake up the very concept of heteronormativity and compel us to reflect on the question of the representation of masculinity in society. They pave the way for individuals to break from the cultural and social environment imposed depending on gender and sexuality. Through their uncommon action, these ordinary people provide a constructive response to matters surrounding coexistence, tolerance and respecting differences.