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Director of Membership

Yunio Martinez(he/ze/zir) is  a US Soccer, PIAA and NISOA referee. United Soccer Coach and Kicking Out Transphobia founder. 

He immigrated to the United States from Guatemala and has gotten involved in any way ze can to make sure new generations of LGBTQ+ athletes have a safe place to play the game. Ze understands that ze may not be able to change the attitudes of people in the world but knows he can make a difference by educating organizers, coaches, referees, and others by supporting initiatives that stand against hate and encourage diversity in the world’s most beautiful game. In 2022 was featured as one of the Compete Face of Sports and United Soccer Coaches LGBTQ+!community Award, These USC awards honor an individual, organization or other entity that has shown a commitment and outstanding work on behalf of the values of each respective group, meeting the association’s highest ideals of inclusion and diversity in the game. 

What made you want to be a part of IGLFA?

My first IGLFA tournament was during Gay Games Cleveland 2014 and being on the field with LGBTQ+ players from all over the world was the most amazing thing I ever experienced. After being a board member from my LGBTQIA+ club and Local soccer league, I feel it was the time to give back to all my queer community in an international way. 

Why would you recommend attending IGLFA supported tournaments? 

It’s one of the most amazing experiences, it’s a field full of queer joy, the experience everyone had is different, from teams coming from Mexico, Argentina or Brazil the perspective can be one compared to the one who lives in the U.S have but in the end it’s a feeling that you will never find in another competition, plus fútbol is for everyone, and we all need to be represented and visible for the next generations, to let them know we are here, we are queer and we aren’t going nowhere. 

What have been the benefits for you of being your authentic self in football?

You can think you aren’t having an impact but in the end you are, a lot people from other clubs come to me and said thanks for helping me to be myself, today I’m wearing a crop top and feel my true self. And if you ever see me out I always wear something with the rainbow so the young soccer player in the street knows there is more people like them and it’s ok to be themselves, So the people knows it’s ok to be gay, it’s ok to say gay, it’s ok to be queer. And we do belong in the field too, I wear Pride bc you make them hide. 

What changes are you seeing in the football industry that are making it more inclusive?

There have been some changes as the campaign said It’s Get better from having a World Cup with 98 out players in Australia-New Zeland is been amazing. Out players in mostly all the professional leagues is a change. Organizations are valued the importance and resilience of LGBTQ+ players but there is a lot to do from having a World Cup in Qatar and then go back to Saudi Arabia let a lot to say. Do you know you can be killed there just because your sexual orientation let’s don’t said what would happen to you if you change your gender identity. 

How has connecting with other LGBTQ+ people in football helped you personally and professionally?

When I started playing Queer soccer I was in the closet, and you know as Latin &  catholic person we struggle with our families, with our culture and can be hard but in the end, you need that strength and you need that community where they make you feel that you belong. But been involved with other community helped me to understand myself not just a gay person now I identify myself as a Genderqueer person, I stared to express and present myself as nonbinary, also I learn so much how to organize a league, tournament or connect with a club that coming from another country with another language i would never think I could be able to do it, but been in a community of LGBTQ people make me give the best of me. 

Who are the LGBTQ+ people in football who inspire you and why?

There are a lot of them, but if I have to mention some USWNT team have a lot players with values that I respect and inspire me every day, from Megan Rapinoe leading the team to be recognized and fight for what is right Equal Pay, or standing for the Trans Community and recognize there are other members in the LGBTQIA community who need more support because there are been marginalized, ban from sports, killed and treated like their existence isn’t enough. To all the trans and noncomforming community I want to let them know they belong, their existence is valid and trans joy is beautiful and their resilience will help us to continue kicking out transphobia and defend trans joy. 

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