LGBT

Who Should LGBT+ People Vote For?

General Election fever is in full-swing. Different areas of society are being urged, swayed and pleaded with to vote a certain why. With that in mind, who should the LGBT+ citizens of the United Kingdom be voting for next month? Labour? The Lib Dems? The Greens? The major seven UK parties are all very different on their vision for the next steps in LGBT+ equality and here’s why;

The en vogue parties in the LGBT+ community right now are without a doubt the Labour party and the Green party, with the latter soaring in support from gay, bisexual and transgender people. In fact, just this week Peter Tatchell called out for us to vote Green next month to further the agenda of equality. Now, I have looked at the Green party manifesto and everything they want to do for the LGBT+ community is nice, fluffy and genuinely quite lovely, but too typically of them – vapid. There is very little substance to what they specifically would do to help those in the LGBT+ community. Bar misleading claims that Caroline Lucas was the one that drove the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act through the last parliament, the Greens actually have a weak case for the gay vote.

The Labour party are also being touted as champions of LGBT+ rights, despite failing to place Marriage Equality in their 2010 manifesto and even this year their offer is very slim too, only outlining an LGBT Rights Envoy to promote human rights internationally – a good idea but ultimately, it’s not a lot. Plaid Cymru make a positive contribution in their manifesto and are probably the second best choice in this election – with a clear strategy to tackle specific acts of LGBT+ discrimination in many different areas. Their nationalist counterparts the SNP are surprisingly quiet on the subject. In spite of being on the social left; they offer nothing more than an a mirror of Labour’s international ambassador plan. Unsurprisingly, the Conservatives, who probably think the work for LGBT+ equality is done with the passing of same-sex marriage under Cameron’s premiership, offer absolutely nothing specific in their manifesto. UKIP are similarly mute, they haven’t even pledged to increase homosexual activity during drought season. Apparently Farage’s “people’s army” is “not driven by the needs of differing special interests groups”. I guess his is a heterosexual people’s army instead.

Hero… Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone (left) was the biggest LGBT+ advocate in the last Parliament

Is this meagre choice really the best LGBT+ citizens can hope for from the next election? In my view, the answer is no. The real party for LGBT+ people is still plugging away and providing sound basis for a progression in equal rights – and they are the Liberal Democrats. We’re told we’re not allowed to trust my party – we’re simply poisonous in the media realms – not to be entertained on the back of one broken pledge, a mistake no other party has ever made. But just hear me out. In the Coalition government, the Lib Dems succeeded in implementing marriage equality, almost solely on the back of the pluck from former MP Lynne Featherstone. And this is just one example in a long, long history of the Lib Dems catering for LGBT+ needs. The preceding Liberal party was the first to introduce a gay rights section for policy, while the Lib Dems have actively supported drives to make the age of consent equivalent, protect LGBT+ asylum seekers from unjust criminal charges abroad and oppose the ban on teachers being allowed to disclose their sexuality.

Thankfully, the Liberal Democrats haven’t stopped there and the party has pledged even more for LGBT+ citizens in their 2015 manifesto. The Lib Dems want to extend the rights of co-habiting heterosexual couples to homosexual ones, include all relationships in qualification for Civil Partnerships, crack down on homophobic bullying in schools, make homophobic football chanting a criminal offence like racist chanting is, permit humanist weddings, seek to end the disgraceful  and unnecessary bans on blood donation for MSM, pardon those convicted of historical homosexual ‘offences’, and they even match the SNP and Labour’s pledge for an appointed international  gay rights advocate – and in greater detail too.  For gender non-confirming people, the party have pledged to introduce “X” gender markers on passports and eliminate the need for a gender dysphoria diagnosis to acquire legal gender recognition.

Equal rights for LGBT+ citizens is one of, if not my biggest passion in politics and the Liberal Democrats are simply streets ahead in this vicinity and have been for a long long time. I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t mean it and I wouldn’t have joined a party that didn’t put the drive for LGBT+ equality at the heart of their policy making. If you really want a conscious, caring, allied voice for non-heterosexuals in government for the next five years then don’t vote Green, don’t vote Labour, vote Liberal Democrat.

Manifesto Check

Where the parties stand on LGBT+ issues in their 2015 manifestos

LGBT2015

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Isolation Through Stereotypes

Stereotyping any type of person is problematic. The LGBT+ community, like many others, is rife with preconceived false notions of what ‘should’ constitute an LGBT man or woman. A prevalent stereotype of gay men is that we love pop divas and their music, think Cher, Madonna, Kylie – and while that is true of plenty of gay men around the world, the sheer scope of exposure afforded to this cross-section of gay culture is somewhat isolating to the rest of us.

Obviously gay periodicals and news channels like HuffPostGay, Gay Times and Attitude will commercially benefit from covering news stories pertaining to the aforementioned artists, and I’m sure many gay men have a vested interest in these people but that doesn’t mean that their excursions constitute ‘gay news’.

Irrelevant… Dannii Minogue’s return to music made headlines among gay publications

There are many gay men who are interested in sport, politics and other types of music, to name just a few examples. Shouldn’t gay news outlets publish gay features on a plethora of interests or more simply just cover gay and LGBT issues, rather than paying disproportionate attention to stereotypical music tastes? Printed versions may have to restrict the range of news covered due to lack of space but online, where many of these outlets operate, there is no such excuse.

Of course, these celebrities can largely attribute their popularity among the gay community to their do-gooding, and it remains imperative for rights activists in the media to be reported on when they are active in that process. However, it isn’t factual to suggest that Kylie and Madonna, to stick with earlier examples, are only reported on for equality campaigning. In contrast, Maroon 5 front-man Adam Levine and pop band Fun get nowhere near the same level of coverage despite similar if not excelling levels of activism themselves. Well, Adam Levine does get coverage, but a different kind. In recent years Levine has persistently and vocally championed equal rights and Fun have co-founded the Ally Coalition that encourages the idea of straight allies.

The point I’m trying to make is that the release of Madonna’s album is not ‘gay news’. Liza Minnelli going back to rehab, though sad and upsetting for some, is not ‘gay news’. In fact, just yesterday Attitude published an article listing all the instances of self-reference on Madonna’s latest release, Rebel Heart. I mean really? For the record, I think Attitude is an excellent publication but why are certain gay men’s interests more important than others? I’m sure many consider these stories important or interesting but it isn’t gay-specific news and the sole focus on trivial topics like these only propagates stereotypes of gay men and isolates those who don’t fit in to these conventional interests.

Overlooked… LGBT+ issues in sports are often not given the same importance as pop music

There are a couple of ways that gay news carriers could correct this, and to be honest, it’s surprising it hasn’t already happened. They could either stick to LGBT specific news or feature a wide variety of interests remarked on from a gay angle. Let’s be fair, a certain genre of pop music is not under the ownership of all in the gay community. In modern times, we are told repeatedly that gay men are a diverse group with a wide range of interests, views and beliefs – and rightly so. But why is it that in 2015, we still assume that disco pop is the only thing that gay men are interested in outside of being gay? Obviously, I don’t expect a horse racing pull-out and a motorsports section but why are, for example, potential features on homosexuality in football or even the LGBT policy proposals of political parties being displaced by Britney Spears’ latest robotic effort?

While I concede that it makes financial sense to include these stories in gay magazines, it doesn’t make much sense to exclude other interests held by gay people that may transcend other spheres. This, remember is a community that added a ‘+’ on to the LGBT acronym to be wholly inclusive – it’s time to walk the walk. LGBT men and women should be able to purchase, follow and read gay news and have their other interests covered if the stereotypically common interests of other LGBT people are. Let’s not isolate gay people via the media because they don’t conform to traditional typecasts. It may seem like an over-the-top reaction to a seemingly minor issue but pigeon-holing people is never a good idea, particularly when these outlets are supposed to be representative. Let’s not give others the chance to stereotype those in the LGBT community and embrace the wide variety of interests we share – that’s the right attitude.

Dear, Football

Dear players and staff of *club name*,

My name is Chris Whiting; I’m a 19 year old lifelong football fan. Ever since, I was very young, I have loved football. I’m a passionate, dedicated, loyal and hopefully knowledgeable Leicester City fan. And I am gay.

I have been gay for as long as I have been a football fan and personally, my sexuality has never caused me any internal anguish. But, for many fans it does, and still in 2015 they are unable to marry these two qualities.  Football has always been viewed as fair game for banter, or what could be better termed as vitriol. Racism, sexism and homophobia have always been rife in the stands but the latter two are fading gradually with higher visibility of ethnic minorities and women in the sport.

We haven’t even begun to go down that road with homosexuality.  Of course, being gay is something you can hide in football and until that changes it will always be viewed as a weakness.

Every Saturday, I get angry when the linesman misses a blatant offside, I taunt the opposing fans when their star striker blasts wide from six yards, and I flail my limbs like a lunatic when we grab a vital goal. I do these things just like every other football fan in the country. So, why is the thought of homosexuals being involved in football still such a stigma?

Like I’ve already said, I’m a normal football fan and I’m gay. Statistically, at least one of your squad is too. I don’t wish to force anybody ‘out of the closet’, but in honour of LGBT+ history month, I wanted to try and encourage somebody to take that brave step on their own.  Or at least, encourage anyone to whom this doesn’t personally apply to be allies. ‘Coming out’ is a personal journey but the inability of football to address this affects everyone.

Society has made massive strides in terms of accepting gay people. I’m pretty much considered normal in every other part of my life. One day, I hope to feel the same at 3pm every Saturday.

Football isn’t ready, and it never will be until we make it get ready. It’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Whiting

How To Get Away With Half-Hearted Representation

How To Get Away With Murder is taking the US television scene by storm in the new season. However, its fresh take on legal drama is not what’s drawing unique attention. Instead, the uber-conservative cross section of American viewership is up in arms over the ‘controversial’ depiction of passionate gay sex scenes.

It’s utterly absurd that such a programme would obtain censure for what can only be defined as a truthful narrative of how some same-sex pairings engage in intercourse. It’s long been a taboo on television for same-sex affection to be portrayed on equal-footing with heterosexual intimacy. While it’s true that representation of LGBT+ characters and couples has been growing on the American TV scene since the 1980s, it is still lagging far behind with its tackling of physical love. The bold moves to allow Ellen Degeneres’ character to come out on her self-titled sitcom, which then led to gay couples appearing on more recent series such as Glee and Modern Family have helped normalise gay issues but ultimately there is still a large portion of the gay lifestyle that remains discriminatorily alien over the dread of a polemical storm.

Controversy… HTGAWM’s Connor has sex

I suppose you could even be excused for thinking, given the relative success of the latter two shows that LGBT+ acceptance has sky-rocketed to near equal echelons to that of heterosexual couples on the small screen. But that’s hardly the case, while there is a much fairer representation of gay characters on television than ever before, their active sexuality, the only thing that really differentiates them from any other character is fundamentally constrained or regulated. Particularly on American television, homosexual intimacy is generally intimated rather than actually shown. How To Get Away With Murder neglects that tradition and does illustrate indelicate gay sex scenes. And, all too tritely some people aren’t happy about that;

As it happens, these racy gay sex scenes are the same as any we’ve seen with straight couples from US TV shows for years and years. On the big four networks in the States; Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC, we’ve seen numerous TV shows in recent times represent zesty sex; Melrose PlaceGossip GirlScandal and even Friends to name just a few. And that’s just from the top networks, taking others in to account you can add Game of ThronesGirlsMasters of Sex, Sex and the City and the US version of Shameless to the list too. This racy heterosexual content is never perceived as problematic to the viewer as it would be if it was homosexual – and we supposedly live in a tolerant time. I notice that nobody complained about the oral sex scene between a male and female in How To Get Away With Murder‘s pilot episode, or the repeated raunchy sex scenes between straight pairings, but did so when a man kissed another man’s back. Maybe you think that niche programming like The L Word and Queer as Folk should encompass all the gay sex we see on television but is that genuinely representative of modern life?

Inconsistent… Viola Davis’ character’s oral sex scene went largely uncriticised.

It’s even the case with British television too. Just this year on popular soap EastEnders, they introduced a reticent and reserved gay character who flitted from gay character to gay character, as if corresponding sexuality alone is adequate enough to forge a partnership in the LGBT+ sphere. It’s certainly not archetypal of the plural attitude we’ve come to expect of modern media. Come to think of it, does television ever depict confident young gay people on television? Other than Glee’s Blaine, I am struggling to think of one. Homosexuals are as diverse a social cross-section as any but TV seldom reflects that, it seems that most people think as long as gay characters are not being harassed or attacked with bigoted vitriol then they’re being represented equally, but this minimising view is simply not true and simply not enough.

Believe it or not, gay people have sex as zealously as straight people. It’s not good enough to have heterosexual sex shown to be as passionate as network regulators will allow and then relegate homosexual intimacy to passing inference. Television has a crucial part to play in changing culture and should be the driving force to rid gay sex of its taboo label. People may not enjoy watching same-sex pairings go at it on screen, the same way some people won’t appreciate opposite-sex scenes but it’s vital we treat both alternatives on a storytelling par. Any problems viewers have specifically with depictions of gay sex are carrying around an unharnessed homophobia. Television is supposed to mirror life, and sex is as big a part of life for gay people as it is for heterosexuals. Any problem a viewer has with that is their problem and certainly not that of the scriptwriters at How To Get Away With Murder. Of course, if it has become that pertinent an issue, they could always change channels instead of trying to slow the rate of progress to match their own parochial regime.

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.

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.

Boycott Blatter’s Bulls**t?

No one is happy about this. This being FIFA’s decision to hold the 2022 edition of the World Cup, football’s grandest international tournament in Qatar. And, it’s not football snobbery that’s the plaguing the internet forums. The most contentious issue without doubt with the decision is moving the beloved tournament to an untraditional winter commencement.

Simpleton… Blatter prays for an escape from this giant mess.

Let’s start with the good points about this arrangement. This shouldn’t take too long. FIFA claims that holding such a renowned event in a country less interested in football will spread word of football and help develop Qatar’s and the surrounding nations’ footballing abilities. And to be fair, that is a good point. In fact, if that was the only, genuine reason and there weren’t so many faults with the decision, I’d probably back Blatter and co.’s decision.

Unfortunately, the bid was also full of holes such as the ignorance of Qatar’s scorching hot summers that would make playing football in almost impossible. As a result, Blatter proposed a Winter World Cup which has angered football fans across the globe. Not only is his idea a breach of decades of tradition, it would also be a monumental disruption to the major domestic leagues around the world, something many a football fan tend to value more. There are too, no stadia fit for the World Cup currently in Qatar, meaning up to eight venues would have to be constructed within the next 9 years. On top of the logistical issues, there are huge social issues too. Male homosexuality is illegal in Qatar meaning any gay man making the trip would be at risk of imprisonment and five years in prison. When Sepp Blatter was rightly criticised for allowing the event to be held there he simply told LGBT fans to keep a low profile. Not only is the decision to hold the tournament in Qatar, a painful inconvenience it is also dangerous to one cross-section of football fans. Maybe we shouldn’t be inviting an intolerant nation to embrace the ‘beautiful game’.

Money talks… Other nations offered better conditions.

It really does beg the question; what were the voters thinking? How on earth, given all of this information could this scorching, homophobic nation be a better choice than say the United States or Australia? Two countries that don’t endanger certain members of society through human rights violations. Two countries who could hold a competition in the northern hemisphere’s summer months without people evaporating. Two countries with expanding domestic leagues that would be hugely benefited by the promotion the World Cup brings.

It simply makes no sense to isolate the vast majority of football fans and domestic leagues to appease one tiny country not even remotely interested in football. Well, it doesn’t until you remember what a corrupt, selfish, money-grabbing scheme Sepp Blatter currently employs at FIFA HQ. Rumours spread that Russia had effectively bought their bid’s victory for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and given how feeble Qatar’s claim to the tournament is, you can safely assume money played a part here.

We continue to await the inevitable confirmation of the tournament’s move to Winter and eagerly we hope that the main footballing bodies elsewhere will stand up to Fifa and tell them where to shove it. Will they? I wouldn’t count on it.

That’s so Hateful

Target… Raven Symone’s sexuality has been blamed for ‘ruining people’s childhood’.

Although rumours of her sexuality had been circulating the web for the better part of a year, former Disney star, Raven Symoné publicly acknowledged her orientation on Twitter a few days ago. The reactions proved that homophobia is still rife in society, despite the march towards marriage equality in much of the Western world.

Other than dying or having a baby, there is nothing more provocative a celebrity can do than come out of the closet. Time and time again, the public and the media have worked up a storm over the sexuality of the likes of Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga, Zachary Quinto etc. Although, nobody is at all perturbed by a confession of bisexuality as every female pop star will tell you; it’s the must-have edge to a star’s persona. Regardless, this confession in a supposedly tolerant society shouldn’t cause a stir – more a passing acknowledgement and then let’s get on with our lives. Having said that, a media frenzy is a much more welcome reaction than the one Raven Symoné received. An account called ‘Childhood Ruined’ that tweets sinister observations of popular crazes from people’s childhood tweeted the news as if it had somehow tainted her hit comedy show, ‘That’s So Raven’. Frighteningly, people latched on to the tweet to agree with its sentiment. Even celebrities like Neil Patrick Harris, perhaps most famous for playing womaniser, Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother who has been ‘out’ for years is still targeted with (hopefully) inadvertent homophobic comments.

We can see the prominence of homophobia in sports such as football where homosexuality is fair game for a cheap ‘banterous’ dig at the opposition, meaning that discriminatory insults are likely to lurk in the minds of kids for generations to come. Also, recently there has been a rise in ‘homophobic’ terms seen on social networking sites with remarks like ‘faggot’, ‘no homo’, ‘dyke’ and ‘so gay’ becoming increasingly popular social vernacular. Although, usually non-intended with any malice, these words can affect the confidence of young LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender) people wondering whether they are in a safe environment to be who they are, a potentially permanent effect on their self esteem. One site (NoHomophobes.com) has collated all of the tweets with the previously mentioned terms in since July 5th 2012. Astonishingly, today alone, there have been (as of 5:17pm BST); 34,311 tweets mentioning ‘faggot’, 8,354 ‘no homo’ tweets, 8,275 ‘so gay’ posts and 2,735 utterances of ‘dyke’. Remember, this is just tweets, Facebook statuses and comments, ask.fm questions and Tumblr posts are not included in those scarily high numbers. Statistics show that 64% of LGBT students feel unsafe at school, which is no surprise given the popularity of homophobic slurs in modern slang. It’s tough enough to come out as gay when you’re pretty sure you’ll be accepted but the uses of such language will only make youths doubt their comfort in themselves. Harmful lies about gay stereotypes are also stacked against many people today. The view that gay men are always effeminate lead to the ‘no homo’ catchphrase, only enforcing the idea that a gay youth being themselves will change people’s perception of them.

Rising... The use of homophobic slang is on the rise.

Rising… The use of homophobic slang is on the rise.

I obviously realise that a lot of the uses of homophobic slang is not meant in a derogatory way but the words will have an affect on others and society in the long run. Pretty much every person has had a critical joke made about them and wondered if there was any sincerity behind it, this is exactly the same. Don’t alienate people – think before you speak.

Banter or Bile? : The Ugly Face of Homophobia in Football

In recent weeks, both Brighton & Hove Albion and now retired-footballer, Robbie Rogers have sparked up debates over the existence of homophobia in football. For decades, campaigners have tried to kick racism and sexism out of the game with noticeable progress but still in 2013, no openly gay footballers in England exist. Begging the question; are the exchanges between the terraces harmless banter or malevolent bigotry?

Targeted… Football fans from the UK’s gay capital have complained to the FA.

Football is a game synonymous with hearty yet edgy banter. Fans are renowned for their sharp passion filled exchanges in the stands with barely anything off limits. Racism, sexism and homophobia are the three main targets for discrimination that organisations such as Kick It Out and The Justin Campaign have sought to eliminate, but to little avail. Since the 1970s and 1980s when football hooliganism and discriminative chanting were at their peaks, only racist chanting has come close to disappearing from the English banter arsenal. Homophobia and sexism has remained rife in the stands. Sian Massey has made huge strides towards gender equality in the sport but an openly gay active player has yet to the same for LGBT equality.

Pioneer… Robbie Rogers is only English football’s 2nd openly gay player

The reason for this imbalance in success, is that racism has been combatted with rigorous campaigning both on and off the pitch. Whereas, the issue of homophobia, which too is discrimination for an innate disposition, is targeted less. Kick It Out should rightly be commended for their work against racism in football but when it comes to tackling homophobia, you wouldn’t be wrong in saying that they’ve tried a little less. With this video campaign (below) coming under fire for almost promoting homophobia by treating the issue in a mocking fashion.

It’s a well-known fact that there are currently no openly gay professional footballers. Justin Fashanu was the first footballer in England to come out as gay.  After coming out in 1990, that’s just 23 years ago, many of his former team-mates spoke out in anger against him, stating that gays had no place in team sports. Legendary manager, Brian Clough also labelled him a ‘bloody poof’, a statement he revealed he later regretted. But due to the horrific torment he received, Fashanu took his own life. Following Fashanu’s suicide in 1998, it would take some 15 years for the next player to out themselves. US international, Robbie Rogers came out in a blog post in February 2013 and although the overall reaction of fans was generally positive, he felt he had to retire from the game as a result. Begging the question, has any progress been made at all?

‘Role model’… Brian Clough publicly vented homophobic views

Brighton’s FA report this month condemns fans of nearly every Championship club,9* for homophobic chants from “We can see you holding hands” to “You’re from a town, full of gays. We hope you all die of AIDs”. A sizeable portion of gay football fans would dismiss a lot of these chants as banter but on occasions, the line is crossed. Initially the seriousness  of the issue, highlighted by this report, had been picked up on, with fans of Leicester City being warned by their club that their season ticket would be confiscated should they unleash any homophobic chanting during an away match at the AMEX stadium in April 2013. However, some have argued that Brighton fans are not the ones that should be concerned, given that the majority of them are not gay. While this may be true, stadiums around the country are filled with gay fans every week and none of them should have to feel like an unwelcome minority. No doubt, there will be a few fans who condemn the changing landscape of terrace chanting, drawing reference to the good old days where everyone was fair game for a cheap dig. But what was so great about vitriolic bigotry in the first place?

Progressive... Less than a third of clubs are currently making a stand against homophobia.

Progressive few… Less than a third of clubs are currently making a stand against homophobia.

Chanting itself is not the only problem. Many football fans will be able to confirm the commonality of homophobic heckling to players and officials. It’s probably true to say that the  fans that make these comments are unaware of the effect they have and the possibility that their sick prejudice will be ingrained in the mind of the small children in attendance, pushing gay rights progress back years. Remarkably only 29 of the 92 top clubs in English football support the “Football vs Homophobia” campaign, a surprising stat given the more ‘family friendly’ nature of sport in the 21st century.

In actuality, the real damage of homophobia in football isn’t done to the fans of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, it isn’t done to the fearful closeted players of the English leagues. The damage is done to every conflicted young boy or girl, discovering the love of their football club only to be met with hateful comments simply for being who they are.

Fans views

The only way to gain a true insight in to Homophobia in football is to ask the fans. Here are some of their comments on the issue.

“In a nutshell, homophobia isn’t acceptable, but players “coming out” won’t make a difference. I’ve never seen any incidents at football.” – Kate (@bantamskatee), Bradford City fan

“(on Robbie Rogers) I have the utmost respect for having the balls to come out and say it, but if anything a massive shame that he’s retired as a result. I’ve got a good mate who’s gay also, and he says the one thing that scares him most about coming out is the way gays are perceived in the media, seeing as people who act especially camp such as Gok Wan & Louis Spence couldn’t represent his personality less. In-fact, him admitting to me he’s gay stunned me and I’d say it’s changed my opinion on gays and how I see them, I can fully see his side of it.” – Dan Turner (@DanLCFC93), Leicester City fan

“Well, I have never actually heard any homophobic abuse at Rovers or an away game and it is something I would never want to hear at a game… it is something to be stamped out along with racism…I feel like it shouldn’t be a bad thing to be gay and a football fan/player but I feel people are scared of the backlash from it.” – Lucy Ford (@LucyRovers), Bristol Rovers fan

“In modern day football, it’s unacceptable to be homophobic. The society away from football doesn’t accept homophobia, being a football fan doesn’t make you immune to the rules. There’s having a joke and then there’s intent to insult which I believe should lead to a ban in football.” – Jess Beasley, (@nffcjessx), Nottingham Forest fan

“When Rogers came out and retired it made big news here (United States). Many MLS teams said they’d welcome him. I think that he should’ve kept playing. But on the other hand I can understand why he retired. No gay professional athletes here either. Also, there haven’t been ANY homophobic abuses here stateside in football. (on whether a San Francisco franchise would receive homophobic abuse) That’s never been an issue here with other sports that have a team in San Fran, so I’d think it wouldn’t be an issue in football” – Kyle Debelak, Manchester City fan