Gay Lesbian and Bisexual

Football is in Debt to its LGBT Fans

It’s 2014 and there are still no openly LGBT people in English football. Not a manager, a player, nor even a physio. Other sporting organisations in the traditionally more conservative United States such as the NFL and the WWE and even Rugby Union and cricket here are streets ahead of ‘the beautiful game’ when it comes to equality.

Homophobia is still a huge problem in English football. The FA and the 92 league clubs are, in my opinion doing little to combat anti-LGBT perceptions on the pitch and in the stands. When I corresponded with the FA, they were proud to boast of several initiatives they had backed including Opening Doors and Joining In and Football vs. Homophobia. Other than placing their name on a few programs, the visibility of the FA’s work is scarce to say the least. In fact, the campaigns they allegedly support haven’t had much success with England’s top clubs either. Just over a quarter of the ninety-two Premier League and Football League clubs are signed up to the Football vs. Homophobia campaign.

The FA has had numerous opportunities to avow its pledge to opposing homophobia but refuses to comment on the provocative choices of Russia and Qatar for the following two World Cups. Sadly, it seems there was greater tumult in the footballing world, when it was alleged that the decision was the product of a payoff rather than the fact the bribers were from a country that incarcerates homosexuals?

The biggest problem is the non-existence of ‘out’ footballing personnel – and the absence of transparency. In recent years, high-profile names such as Thomas Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers have come out as gay. The former waited until he was retired to do so and the latter felt he’d be safer from abuse and judgement in the United States, where social conservatism is almost sacred. If that doesn’t highlight the problem then I don’t know what will.

Just this week Malky Mackay and Iain Moody were accused of sending homophobic texts as well as racist and sexist ones, using phrases such as ‘independently minded young homo’ and ‘gay snake’. Imagine being a young gay footballer working under people with those views. In a truly appalling follow-up the League Manager’s Association dismissed Mackay’s and Moody’s heinous behaviour as ‘banter’ and the pair ‘blowing off steam’. Football doesn’t take the issue seriously. Last season, footballers and managers were given the opportunity to showcase their support for LGBT people in football by supporting Paddy Power and Stonewall’s Right Behind Gay Footballers rainbow laces campaign but most didn’t lace up. Only one player from my club did so, which is demoralising – every player in the top six divisions received the laces for free.

It’s important that fans, players and footballing bodies alike make LGBT players feel comfortable to not hide who they are. A recent poll found that 73% of English fans would accept a gay player in either their club or national team, even when we account for demand characteristics and social desirability bias; we can be nigh on certain that the majority of football fans would embrace or at least tolerate more LGBT personnel in the English game. So, we need to ask ourselves why players are still so petrified.

It’s time for football to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. It’s not enough to say you’re anti-homophobia but do nothing about it. The FA, the Premier League and the Football League need to introduce high visibility initiatives to make gay footballers feel safe enough to ‘come out’ and hopefully soon – that’s the best way to rid the game of homophobia. For too long, football fans have put banter ahead of equality, shoddily made Richard Keys vines ahead of an all-encompassing environment. Seriously, it’s 2014. There are more openly gay active NFL players and WWE wrestlers than there are openly gay players in English football. Our sport may be the world’s best but when it comes to a Premier League for equality; football is doing a Derby County.

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Let’s Get One Thing Straight: Why “Heterosexual Pride” Marches Don’t Happen

This weekend, thousands rejoiced and celebrated gay pride events held in the cosmopolitan cities of London and New York. LGBT pride events as they’re perhaps more appropriately named take place across many cities every year, and in turn they produce the painfully offensive and irritating question from many; “why isn’t there a ‘straight pride’?”

On the surface, it almost seems an equitable question. We have gay or LGBT pride movements so why not a heterosexual one? After all, those movements’ sole aim is to establish equality for all regardless of sexual orientation. But when you spend more than half a second considering why no such events take place it becomes glaringly obvious why the question itself is just a little bit stupid.

Quite simply put, there isn’t ‘straight pride’ because nobody has ever tried to quash the mass pride of heterosexuals. The LGBT community has suffered and still suffers discrimination and persecution from all walks of life for the sole reason of being a part of that community.A straight female holding hands with her partner as she walks down the street would be unlikely to draw any attention. A lesbian woman doing the same with her girlfriend is far more likely to be met with negativity or abuse. Heterosexuality is outlawed in a total of zero countries, homosexuality is still illegal in 81. And even now is punishable by death in seven of them.

Death.

People are still legally killed for being gay in 2014.

Shameful… The countries in red show where homosexuality is a crime.

Of course, things aren’t as barbaric and oppressive here. In most parts of the UK and indeed many parts of the US, homosexuality is legal and the right to change legal gender is allowed too, but these changes only came in to place as recently as 30 years ago, and same-sex marriage was only approbated last year. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that homophobia is a myth in the Western world. Let’s not forget that two of the three highest polling political parties in the UK possess a significant proportion of members who still oppose the strive for sexual orientation equality.

LGBT youth are still prone to discrimination in the UK, some will be ostracised by their friends and family for the simple crime of being who they are; the same can thankfully not be said for straight people. This year, a BBC Newsbeat survey found that 42% of LGBT though have sought help for depression and anxiety and 52% have reported self-harm at some point in their lives, considerably higher rates than found in heterosexual youths. Stonewall found that in 2012, 55% of LGBT workers experienced bullying in the workplace and 99% ceaselessly heard homophobic phrases. In fact, in the last week alone, nohomophobes.com have tallied 290,754 tweets referencing such homophobic phrases as ‘faggot’, ‘dyke’ and ‘so gay’ – this is just on Twitter, just of English speakers and just one week’s worth of data.

Still wondering when ‘straight pride’ day is? It’s every day. It’s being able to kiss your partner in public without fear of being heckled, segregated or vilified. What would a ‘straight pride’ event even consist of? Shared memories of that time when everyone of the like was free to love who they wanted? Or maybe a fond reflection on the hard-work heterosexuals have put in to win the basic rights they were never traditionally afforded? Maybe, it’s that ‘pride’ is the wrong word – or perhaps the concept itself is misinterpreted. LGBT pride is not about boasting about sexuality, it’s not about showing off or self worship. It is to commemorate the progress made towards triumphing over the legal and societal oppression of the minority, a time to celebrate and feel safe in an all-encompassing environment (including heterosexuals) to be your whole self, for just one or two days a year.

It doesn’t make you homophobic to have ever wondered why ‘straight pride’ doesn’t exist. But when you look at why LGBT pride events are held and indeed needed, it should answer the question. It’s not about revoking the equal right of straight people to celebrate their sexuality. In truth, heterosexuals should be thankful that ‘straight pride’ isn’t required. After all, LGBT pride events are not state-run initiatives, so if you still think an event to bask in the adversity-free existence of the majority as some oddly coveted equivalent to the celebration of a minority’s push for victory over injustice should occur, then organise it yourself.

The Gay Marriage Debate

One of modern day’s social taboos is the issue of gay marriage. Particularly in the Western World where homosexuality is on the whole more accepted, the idea of same-sex marriage is becoming more and more prevalent.

And to me, when weighing up the pros and cons, it’s a ‘no brainer’.

The main opposition to same-sex unions seems to derive from fierce conservatives or passionate theists. Conservatives claim that because gay couples cannot reproduce they should not be allowed to marry. Theists, particularly Christians and Muslims draw inspiration from their hate for homosexuality from ancient verses of their gods, who condemn it. Many American Christians believe that homosexuals would damage the sanctity of marriage in the eyes of God, citing it as immoral.

I wholly respect the rights of both conservative and religious groups to hold their own views but is the justification for their prejudice really there?
The extreme right wing’s main argument relies on a homosexual couple’s incapability to reproduce, however would they deny an infertile couple the opportunity to enter in to a legal union?
Religious groups also rely on God’s firm stance of heterosexual marriages only. However, God also allows marriages which constitute of incest, rape and pedophilia.

How the parties see it

Bigoted... UKIP are opposed

Bigoted… UKIP are opposed

UKIP and the BNP are the main adversaries to same-sex marriage in the UK. The Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Green party support the movement whereas the Conservatives are split. The main criticism as the picture shows above is that UKIP believes it’s bad timing. They don’t see a need for a change regardless and especially not now.

Apparently, it’s not a pressing issue in today’s politics. What could be more important than basic HUMAN (not gay) rights?

Dismantling the argument

During my time, researching the area of same-sex marriage debate, several key arguments come up and here’s my direct response to each;

1. “Being gay is not natural.”
Homosexuality is common behaviour in THOUSANDS of different species. Homophobia is only found in one, which is natural?
Also, by this logic. You should not be accessing the internet through a mobile, laptop or any other means because that too is ‘unnatural’.

2. “Adam and Eve not  Adam and Steve”
You mean that story about how a floating man in the sky created the Earth in six days which also  features a cameo by a talking snake?

3. “Heterosexual couples are the traditional definition of marriage.”
…and traditionally, blacks and women did not have equal rights either, should it still be the case?

4. “Straight marriage will lose it’s meaning.”
Yes, the sanctity of Kim Kardashian’s 72 day marriage will be destroyed.

5. “Marriage is the place for children.”
Because elderly and infertile couples are denied the right to marry too, aren’t they?

6. “Gay parents will raise gay children.”
The same way, straight parents always raise straight children.

7. “It goes against God.”
So is wearing more than one type of fabric. I respect your right to be a theist, but who are you to impose the wills of your leader on non-believers? Marriage is granted by the state, an organisation in which religion should have MINIMAL say.

8. “If gay people can get married soon paedophiles and bestialitists will have the same rights too

A gross miscalculation of change. A same-sex marriage is entered in to by two consenting adults. A child nor an animal can legally or physically consent to marrying a human being. Homosexuality is victimless.

9. “It will lead to gay adoption and children NEED both male and female parents to succeed.”
Because single parents always do such an awful job by themselves?  I find it difficult to ascertain why somebody’s genitals affects their skills as a parent and/or role model.

The main argument against gay marriage is as always God and the bible, a book written thousands of years ago when people believed the world was flat. A book that only SOME christians actually believe. Marriage is a legal right not  a religious one. Why would you deny two people happiness when you’re indirectly affected? Would you tell someone they can’t eat a doughnut just because you’re on a diet?

In hindsight, this is less of a debate than fucking obvious. The fact this is still only discussion even seems ludicrous in 2012. But for now, all I can advise the opposition is if you’re against gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person.