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Vanessa Selbst may be the most successful female professional poker player of all time but she still has to deal with male chauvinism in the poker world.

In a recent interview, Vanessa talked openly about her sexual preferences and how it is received in poker world.

“I’ve never encountered prejudice for being gay but I have for being a woman” said Deuces Cracked poker coach Vanessa Selbst” and I actually believe her. But I also believe that if she was a gay man, she would encounter a lot more prejudice for being gay.

While most men typically try to avoid especially public confrontation with lesbians, they don´t seem to have a problem with picking on gay men. Think about all the jokes made about Daniel Negreanu over the last 10 years and the guy isn´t even gay! But of course it is “all in good fun” like they tend to say. All in good fun as in no one else is laughing but you.

“I’ve never encountered any prejudice for being a gay player but I definitely have for being a woman. It may be 2013 but sometimes I still don’t get invited to games because they want them to be men only – and it’s explicit, rather than implied. I just roll with it and try to educate where I think it’s appropriate. I have spoken – publicly and privately – with the directors of several major poker tours to explain why I think what they’re doing is bad for women. And they are usually pretty receptive. It’s often a question of men not thinking about the implications that their actions could have for women” said Vanessa Selbst.

There is just one point that I would like to warn Vanessa about; Men are the masters of appearing receptive. We look right into your eyes and appear to be listening with utmost attention and passion. And the moment you finished your sentence, we already forgot what the subject was. So don´t get your hopes up about those receptive directors of poker tours.

[quote text=”I’ve never encountered prejudice for being gay but I have for being a woman” person=”Vanessa Selbst” align=”left”]

Obviously Vanessa isn´t the only gay poker player out there but she is one of the very few openly gay professionals. Last year, professional poker player Jason Somerville came out in a lengthy, well-written post on his blog.

“Of all the diversity and variety that the poker world contains, though, there is a noticeable lack of openly gay poker professionals. Vanessa Selbst is a top tier player, a brilliant woman and an amazing person, but other than her, I’ve never met a single gay professional poker player, nevermind a high profile one. There’s plenty of speculation – Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, and a few other big name players who are actually very straight have received plenty of attention from the gossip forums as being potentially gay for having a few mannerisms simply perceived that way” Said Jason Somerville.

“They’re not gay, though, and no man who is a well-known pro in poker is open about it. I’m not quite sure why exactly that is, and of course everyone is entitled to be as open as they want to be about their personal lives, but for there to be zero high-profile openly not-straight men in poker seems…bad. Archaic. Reflective of a community that isn’t open to all, when we actually are one of the most open communities in existence. Maybe it’s not because of something unique to poker, and it’s just a relic of the old-school mentality when the world’s default mindset was at best “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but, come on, it’s 2012. Whatever the reason… zero??” he added.

Now this excellent blog post and Vanessa´s interview both should remind us all how freedom is earned and how we advance as a civilization. We advance as a civilization because these young men and women have the courage to come out and speak. We advance as a civilization because these brave people choose not to hide who they are. They choose to face and fight our prejudices instead of surrendering to them.  And we, as the poker community, supposedly one of the most open communities, should be ashamed of ourselves for not allowing these young people to be “truly themselves” in the first place. 

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