GayFootballExhibition

The Emergence of Gay and Gay Friendly Football Clubs

 

 

a team picture

a team picture

flag of leftfooters

a team picture

a team picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first gay football clubs began to appear in the early nineties and largely grew out of the interest that had been generated by the Gay Football Supporters Network [GFSN]. In the last few years, the number of clubs in the UK has grown rapidly so that currently the number of active clubs in the UK is just short of twenty. Most of the clubs play in the GFSN League (with a small number also playing in other amateur weekend leagues). There are some interesting differences between the two contexts and the experiences that players have had in each.  The GFSN League organises tournaments that reflect the principles of inclusivity, community, diversity and opportunities to play sport in a competitive yet non-aggressive atmosphere. Fun and love of the game are often as important as competing.


Clubs playing in leagues other than the GFSN League find that the competitive spirit is different – often reporting it frequently to be more aggressive. Whilst some had experienced a degree of homophobia, it is less frequent than might be anticipated – where it does occur, it can centre around the anxiety of losing to a gay team, with name calling as the primary means of trying to "psyche out" gay players. The gay teams acknowledge that they are there primarily for the competition but also admit that there is an agenda to winning ... there is something to prove and they want to prove it!


Clubs recruit players through a variety of means but mostly by advertising online through social networking sites such as Facebook and gay websites.  Clubs also promote themselves around local gay venues, the gay press and word of mouth. Responses from the gay community can be quite mixed as many see football as a predominantly straight activity, in which there is no place for gay clubs – or gay men! However, most of the clubs we met had been started by a small group or even one individual in an attempt to offer some kind of alternative to the gay scene. Clubs use the scene as a social space following games and tournaments – it provides an opportunity for the clubs to spend time together, building friendships and bonds.


More recently, gay-friendly and community clubs have emerged.  The distinction is made to purposefully indicate a positive attitude towards diversity in the team – sexuality of players is considered unimportant.  The key factor is tolerance of all players’ sexuality.  A number of teams who term themselves gay and gay-friendly have straight, bi-sexual or transgendered players amongst their membership.A small number of teams, most notably the Leicester Wildecats, field mixed male/female teams.

 

 

 

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