Anderson Silva waxes philosphical on race and sexual orientation

BY Elias Cepeda • December 9, 2014

Returning former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva recently spoke at length with Brazilian magazine, Trip, about racial and social orientation prejudice. To get to the heart of matters, Silva thoughtfully used himself and his life's story as a lense.

For example, the fleet-footed kickboxer recounted how, as a child, his aunt made him take ballet and tap-dancing classes. Despite getting some ridicule from other kids for his dance lessons, Silva said that he began to enjoy them.

Fightland translated the Trip magazine interview.

"I started to like ballet," he said.

"And my aunt also put me in tap-dancing lessons. I'm thankful to her because it helped me a lot in fighting. [Boxing champ] Evander Holyfield practiced ballet. It's got nothing to do with that, you know. If you want do ballet, you do ballet. You want to fence, you fence. You want to be gay, be gay, it's all right. You respect people's spaces, they respect yours, it's all right."

Silva went on to say that there are many gay athletes, both openly and otherwise, competing in the macho world of MMA. Silva said he hopes that more gay athletes feel comfortable and safe enough to live their lives openly.

"There's a lot of homosexuals in mixed martial arts," he said. "There are a lot of them who haven't yet come out.

"[If they were to come out,] nowadays it's so silly to not express your feelings. As long as you respect people's spaces, and respect their limits. You have to live your life in peace and no one has anything to do with that.

"I would train with a gay man. As long as he respected me, it's all right. I don't think much of it. The fact that guy is gay doesn't mean he's going to accost you. He can be gay, have a relationship, live among guys who aren't gay. he can do whatever he wants with his private life."

"The Spider" said that people often try to insult him by asking if he is gay. Despite having a wife and kids, Silva said he doesn't acknowledge the questions as an insult.

"Sometimes people think I'm gay. A lot of people have asked me if I'm gay," he said.

"I answer, 'Look, not to my knowledge. But I'm still young, it could be that in the future I'll find out that I'm gay.' I take good care of my things, I put everything in a bag, I use soap, I put on a cream after training. People think it's capricious. To each his own. Doesn't mean you're more man or less man, more gay or less gay."

The black athlete also spoke about being raised with pride and respect in Brazil, though he was dark skinned and not wealthy and faced discrimination like many others. The fighter says that in his new home of Los Angeles, he hasn't encountered racism directed at him, and he hopes that things are improving.

"My aunt and my uncle taught me to go into and come out of places with my head held high," he said.

"At every academy I frequented, I was always well received for having the discipline and education that I acquired at home. When I started training Tae Kwon Do, there were a lot of Koreans and whites in the academy, I was maybe the only black person. I cleaned the academy and trained for free. I never suffered any prejudice within the academy. I was always well-received, I was always respected. I have great friends that I made in the academies, to this day. In the sport environment, you have to learn to deal with different opinions, different races, and different classes. Everyone is the same."

To Silva, racism is just an outlet for people to express anger and engage in the inevitable conflict that people seek out. Racial hatred has no place in the modern world, according to Silva.

"I think things are changing, people are learning that everyone is equal before God, independent of their color, their race," he said.

"I tend to say that conflict is inevitable in man, that color is just an excuse to unleash that madness, that lack of respect people have for one another...We're living in a moment in which racism does not fit in the world.

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