An English soccer player is suing two magazines claiming libel for insinuating that he's gay:
The Arsenal and England left-back, Ashley Cole, is planning a landmark court action over claims that two anonymous top flight footballers were involved in a "gay sex orgy", despite not being named in connection with the tabloid story. [...]
Cole has decided to sue for harassment, breach of privacy and libel after rumours over his sexuality spread like wildfire on the internet, fuelled by a series of articles in the News of the World and the Sun that did not name him but contained broad hints at his identity.
I'd like to know whom I can sue for libel because of insinuations made about me because I'm gay.
It's an interesting case in Britain for many reasons, and if you want to read about them you can follow the link above. But the first thing I thought when I heard about this case was, seriously, he's suing for libel and harassment and privacy violation for magazines saying that he's gay? What if he actually were gay, would he have standing to sue?
Part of being gay is constantly being libeled, so much that we simply learn to ignore it, to assimilate it into our understanding of the outside world as one would white noise. There's no redress for that, there's no one in particular to blame for having to confront stereotypes and bias. They're part of a larger systemic homophobia, so we deal with it differently, by having conversations and promoting positive representations, etc.
He probably won't argue that gay is bad, but that the hypocrisy was the libel:
Cole is likely to argue that the suggestion he is gay or bisexual is tantamount to accusing him of hypocrisy and thus damages his reputation.
The pop star Robbie Williams won £200,000 in damages in December from the People and Star magazine over articles claiming he had covered up gay relationships. It was judged to be defamatory because it suggested he had deceived the public by presenting a false image.
What if they reported that he really liked Italian cuisine, but he had never been seen with a cannelloni in public? That would also be hypocrisy, in fact, the same kind of hypocrisy, but I doubt anyone would make a fuss about that. Whatever the hypocrisy argument says, he's suing because gay is bad and being called queer is libel.
I wish that this soccer player would be more willing to take on the other half of this problem, the fact that the magazines thought they could make a few pounds off of calling him gay and the fact that he takes it as an insult, but I don't think anyone will be that lucky.