While there remains a dearth of out gay male athletes, even the most violent and traditionally masculine sports feature out LGBTQ+ competitors these days.

It is 2024, after all. Gays are everywhere, right?

That is, except when it comes to bullfighting, one of the oldest, and some would say most barbaric, sports in the entire world.

But now, that is changing.

Mario Alcalde publicly came out as pansexual recently, making him the first ever out LGBTQ+ matador. Alcalde revealed his true self in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, in which he highlighted his differences with other bullfighters.

“I follow my own path. I have different thoughts than other bullfighters,” he said. “My tastes are not normal in bullfighting. Both politically and sexually. I am pansexual.”

Alcalde, 31, could say the same about his tastes within the LGBTQ+ community. Bullfighting is a hallmark of Spain’s conservative past, and doesn’t jive with the country’s current progressive track–especially in urban areas.

The practice is outlawed in many countries, including parts of Spain. Numbers show the sport’s popularity is down as well: just under 2% of Spain’s population went to a bullfight during the 2021-22 season, according to the country’s cultural ministry.

But Alcalde says the truth stretches beyond the statistics. He believes the ultimate message of bullfighting–that death is inevitable–will always resonate.

“There is no decline. Society’s sensibilities do not fit the reality of life,” he told the BBC.

“Wanting to cover up death is wanting to cover up everything. In order to truly live you have to know that you are going to die,” he added.

Bullfighting is a sport of love. It is not a lucrative endeavor, and most matadors work full-time elsewhere. Alcalde, who lives with his parents, is a baggage handler at Madrid-Barajas Airport.

But that doesn’t prevent him from getting his voice out there. With an enhanced profile, Alcalde wants to change the perception of bullfighting among younger and more progressive people.

That starts with coming out. He says his family didn’t even know he was pansexual.

During his interview with El Mundo, one of the biggest publications in Spain, he just blurted it out.

“The idea came to me… artists are very spontaneous. It came from my heart,” he said.

It’s interesting that Alcalde describes himself as an artist. Despite bullfighting’s machismo culture, we’ve got to say: the costumes are pretty gay!

For centuries, matadors have sported elaborate and colorful costumes. The sport’s whole culture is predicated on the idea that a flamboyant matador is risking his life against the God of death, the bull.

When it comes to the expressive side of bullfighting, Alcalde certainly fits the part.

Now that he’s out, Alcalde hopes to establish a “Peña,” or meeting place, for bullfighting supporters in Chueca, the center of Madrid’s LGBTQ+ community.

At least one person in Chueca, Antonio, told the BBC he would welcome Alcalde with open arms.

“I’m glad he has come out. This will take the ‘machos’, as we call them, down a peg or two,” he said.

The practice of bullfighting may be controversial, and rightfully so. But taking down homophobes is an activity we can all get behind.

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