Pride in Football at the international Football v Homophobia conference in Berlin
Today is, for those who don’t know, national coming out day. Whilst many use this day to tell their coming out stories and to highlight how, regardless of how it goes, things get better I would like to use it to highlight why we still need such a day. A day that encourages people to not live in fear or self hatred simply for loving who they love or being who they are.
I spent the tail end of last week with other members of Pride in Football in Berlin at the international conference against homophobia in football. There were football fans from as far as Mexico in attendance, we discussed our experiences and challenges and, most importantly, our ways forward for the beautiful game.
In the UK we still have no openly LGBT players in the men’s top flight. We still have LGBT phobia in the stands, a lack of understanding from many clubs and the leagues and, at times, what feels like a lack of respect from governing bodies such as the FA, UEFA and FIFA. It’s all good saying that you believe in football for everyone and diversity but we’ll believe you mean it when we see action. We have the next two World Cups in countries where LGBT people are persecuted. How can the beautiful game be for everyone when we still face this?
Pride in Football will continue to fight to change attitudes in the stands, in clubs and in governing bodies. We do so because we love the beautiful game but don’t have to accept any hate that comes from areas of it. We all want to cheer on our team whether we are gay, bi, lesbian, straight, trans, non binary. However we define ourselves, we also all call ourselves football fans. And it’s time to make sure we can be proud to be one too. We work so that no LGBT fan feels unwelcome at a match and we also hope that one day on National Coming Out Day, a top flight male footballer can follow in the steps of our women’s game and be proud to be openly LGBT.
We have far to go, and we have many challenges but just because it is hard does not mean it is not the right thing to do and does not mean it is unachievable.
I believe in a brighter, prouder future for football and if you want to help us please do get in touch with us to see how you can support our work.
Joe White, campaigns officer for Pride in Football