The Icelandic football club Sterken is a grassroots LGBT football team whose motto is ‘role models, not stereotypes’. Sterken propose an enlarged range of possible gay identities, where playing football is just another channel through which young adults socialise and construct legitimate gay selves. Sterken’s practices intersect and support Icelandic gender-mainstreaming. In this article we describe our ethnographic research that sought to understand the impact of this gender mainstreaming through a short immersion in the research field. We show how Sterken's motto of ‘role models, not stereotypes’ produced a tension between the club’s endeavours towards mainstreaming (e.g. ‘we are just like you’) and their activist identity politics. We conclude that Sterken's tactics constitute both a challenge to traditional hegemonic masculinities, while feeding back into an equality discourse that was deemed palatable to the mainstream, in the larger context of political discourse that lends itself toward (hetero)normative social structures.
- gender equality
- hegemonic masculinity