Thursday, 16 May 2013

Forced to Play in the Shadows -- The Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia.



Hi there. Today I'm taking part in the Hop Against Homphobia and Transphobia. We're raising awarenes for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (May 17) by taking part in this huge HAHAT blog hop. It means that just for a few momemts, I get to rant about a few things very close to my heart, and, frustratingly, how those few things seem to come hand in hand:


 Homophobia and Football (soccer). 

Yeah, I know -- football; I can hear the groans from here, lol. But we're huge supporters this end, and one shame to football that is always discussed in our house is how footballers are forced to play in the shadows when it comes to homosexuality.

I was listening to a conversation a few weeks back, where two lads were discussing the rioting incident in Manchester. Twenty-nine football fans were arrested for hooliganism after a Newcastle V Sunderland match. Now, with our family, discussions over football rioting are nothing new to us. Like the two lads I overheard talking, we can pretty much recount most negative associations to football, with hooliganism and Racism offering the most heated debates. With both, Fans have been banned, matches threatened with a postponing, or worse, with the threat of being played behind closed doors if there’s so much of a hint of trouble, and rightly so. Football seems to have come so far in many ways. Yet there’s always that one niggling dark discussion point, that one unmentionable element that seems to bring out a red card every time.

I can’t remember the last time I heard a football manager talk openly about homophobia in football. On so many levels, homosexuality doesn’t seem to exist. But being unable to acknowledge it in football just doesn’t come down to the managers, it’s endemic across the whole spectrum, from managers down to fans, with it seeming more acceptable amongst some football fans to resort to crowd abuse over just taking the time to recognise the damage they're doing. And when people do say, “Hang on, this isn’t right,” attempts to discuss and actively stop homophobia within football remain firmly gagged and sidestepped.

Gay footballers remain firmly in the closet, forced to cover their faces with more than just their shirts, their managers and team members not helping the issue over dressing room "gay" jibes. Brian Clough comes to mind here and his autobiographical comments over Justin Fashanu. Fashanu signaled the first and possibly only footballer to come out and openly claim he was gay. The fallout seemed, unsurprisingly, inevitable.

Fashanu turned professional in 1978 for Norwich City, then played for many clubs during his football career. Some of Fashanu’s troubles started under Brian Clough, but most came during the 1990s after announcing publicly that he was gay. Fashanu went on to suffer soul-destroying crowd abuse, reduction in the number of games he played, and gay “jibes” in the dressing room from some of his teammates. 

He committed suicide not long after in London, May 1998.

Since then, I can’t for the life of me think of any other footballer in the UK who has openly announced that they are gay. Many reports have shown some footballers admit privately to fellow teammates about being gay, but they remain out of the public limelight for fear of rebuttal from fans.

Which brings me back to the two lads I overheard talking. It had me wondering, for all of the people banned and sent to prison for rioting and racism, how many have actually seen a ban or similar for homophobic slurs? And it's something I put to my family. And the overall result? I think we could count them on two hands compared to those arrested for hooliganism and racism.

There's that deep groan that comes here. I know efforts have been made as high as government to recognise how endemic homophobia is within football, with the likes of the Stonewall report being submitted to parliament to help address the issue. 2007 saw the FA ban homophobic chants, with offenders being evicted for minor offences, arrested for the more serious. But if we take a look at the numbers of those arrested for hooliganism and racism compared to those arrested for homophobia, the ball still deflates with a resigned sigh of defeat.

Nothing highlights this more than the Justin Campaign. Set up in the memory of Justin Fashanu, the campaign highlights how rife homophobia remains both on and off the amateur and professional football playing field. In March 2009, they created the Justin Fashanu All-Stars, a football team in memory of Justin, which is also fully supported by the Football Association (FA). And it’s one of the few teams that openly support homosexuality within football.

And yet, with all of the efforts being made, there’s still that overbearing shadow with this sport, and many others, that dictates firmly that boys should be seen to like girls and vice-versa. All mostly guided by fear of the crowd.

I have to ask what effect does the managers’ stance on “Don’t talk about it” do to help the situation. I was fortunate enough to learn a little Latin at school, and one quote that always sticks with me around managers in football is “qui tacet consentit“, or “he who remains silent, consents”.  To me it’s the legacy they’re leaving behind; at the end of the day, football’s a big business, a business where see no gay men, hear no gay men, is sold along with the price of a ticket.

This post is to show support for the likes of the Justin Campaign and their continuing attempts to keep it fresh in people’s minds how gay rights are still kept in the dark ages when it comes to football. And to those who choose to bury their heads in the sand, just:



Thank you for stopping by on this Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and be sure to check out other blogs in this hop. For this visit, I’m donating a copy of my novel Don’t, a M/M BDSM thriller (delivered via Smashwords). 

To be put forward for the draw, all you have to do is comment and leave your email address below. The blog ends on May 27th and the winner will be announced on June 1st.

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Football sihlouette picture courtesy of: Sattva@FreeDigitalPhotios.net
Man Taking Off Shirt photo courtesy of: imagerymajestic@FreeDigitalPhotos.net 
"Depression" Photo courtesy of: Salvatore Vuono@FreeDigitalPhoto.net 
Stop photo courtesy of Stuart Miles@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

32 comments:

  1. Thank you for taking part in the hop!

    kimberlyFDR@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember reading Fashanu's story in DNA Magazine a few years ago...I had known nothing about him up to that point, and was stunned at the whole story. I'm glad the Justin Campaign exists!

    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a very worth-while cause, vitajex.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  3. That was a very touching post; thank you. Some folks here in the U.S. have expressed concern over Jason Collins, the NBA player who came out. How would his self-revelation affect his personal life? And how would some otherwise QUILTBAG-friendly groups minimize his ground-breaking act, because he is African-American?
    Urbanista
    brendurbanist @gmail .com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's maddening that mentioning their sexuality is dangerous grounds for sportsmen. The crowd as a whole is dangerous thing.

      Thank you for stopping by, brend.

      Delete
  4. that was a bloody interesting post - (football and all) it saddens me to think that in this day and age crap like this still goes on - I wish I could shake the shit out of everyone and tell them to "wake the fuck up!"

    normanielsen@bigpond.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're not the only one, N.J. ;)

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  5. Great posts and great replies. Some one once told my daughter she would not get a job because of her life style. I wanted to call her supervisor but alas no one else heard.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's awful when you see it affect your kids, Debbie.

      Thank you dropping in!

      Delete
  6. I didn't know of Fashanu story until now and its heartbreaking. Being gay in pro sports needs changes, its coming but its too slow. I wish I could snap my fingers and just make it all ok (like so many others).

    pantsoffreviews(at)live.ca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's frustratingly slow, Darien. :)

      Delete
  7. That was a very nice post. It is true that pro sports need to change. I am American, so we are dealing with the NFL and all of the gay issues there. Anyway, thanks for doing the hop.

    Beth
    JPadawan11@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm not a football fan, but I agree with you that this is a very important topic to discuss. I live in the US and had not heard the tragic Fashanu story. You may have heard we recently had a pro basketball player come out as gay (Jason Collins), and that's huge news for a sport that on this side of the "pond" is arguably one of the most homophobic. Maybe hockey is even worse? Thanks for highlighting this issue!
    ajpeters@andrewjpeterswrites.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's got to be so hard for sports players. And yet it's surprising that in this day and age, they're made to feel that way. I just hope everything goes okay for Collins, Andrew!

      Thank you for stopping by and showing your support. :)

      Delete
  9. I missed watching Justin Fashnu's nieces programme when it was on TV recently - I meant to watch it but life happened! it is so annoying (for want of a better word) that sports people have to hide who they are. and the current debate in parliament makes me spit feathers too at the moment!

    littlesuze at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh god yes. The parliament debate. It annoyed me when some Conservatives said they should scrap the Gay marriage vote because their voters were defecting to UKIP. What a load of bullshit -- they're defecting because of who's in charge.

      Thank you for dropping by, Suze.

      Delete
  10. Thank you for sharing Justin Fashanu story and for bringing up the topic of gay in football. I've never heard of his story and it was saddening to read that he suffered such abuse because of his sexuality. It's great to hear that the Justin Campaign exists and is there help combat homophobia in football.

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to say so, H.B. :)

      Delete
  11. Thank you so much for your post and participating in this amazing hop!

    sophiebonaste@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for the British sports view. Still, I choose to believe some small progress is happening. This only continues when "good men speak out."

    max3878 at yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly hope so, Max! Speaking out is vital. Thank you for dropping by.

      Delete
  13. Thank you for the post.

    peggy1984 at live dot com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you for taking part in the hop!
    sstrode at scrtc dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you too, Sherry, for dropping by!

      Delete
  15. It's so sad about Justin. Thanks for letting me know about the campaign and for participating.

    tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete


  16. Thanks for participating in this great hop!

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Penumbra. It's a fantastic cause!!!

      Delete