GayFootballExhibition

Findings

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a team picture

a team picture

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a team picture

a team picture

 

 

 

 

 


A significant number of focus groups, interviews, email exchanges and video diary sessions have now been conducted with members of most of the UK’s gay and gay friendly football clubs.  The data collected was characterised by its richness of experience and honesty; participants willingly shared their thoughts, experiences and feelings. What emerged was a picture of gay football in the UK today. The growth of gay football has increased dramatically in the last few years and there is significant interest in the game as an opportunity to develop sporting and social interests within a safe space. Gay and gay friendly teams provide a sense of inclusion for players and an environment where gay supporters of professional teams can meet and share their common interests.

Some key findings from the research are set out below:

1.Players frequently talked of gay football representing a “safe space”, one in which they could play the sport they love where their sexuality was not contentious.

2.Gay football was acknowledged by many as appearing to be a deliberate act of self-exclusion by gay players from mainstream football.  They felt it was important to point out that in most clubs, all players were welcome regardless of their sexuality –  as long as they were gay-friendly.

3. A number of the more recently established clubs call themselves “gay-friendly” rather than “gay”.  This appears to be a deliberate move towards integration with a wider community whilst protecting the values held by most gay clubs. 

4. A new set of values and principles are emerging that underpin the way many gay teams play; aggression and hostility are often eschewed in favour of genuine inclusion and gamesmanship.

5. For some teams, the notion of competitive sport is redefined and, in some cases, even rejected as a primary purpose for playing.

6. Most teams play against other gay/gay-friendly teams, however there are those, such as Stonewall FC and Village Manchester who play in mainstream Sunday leagues.  Whilst the incidence of homophobia is reported by players to be low,  they do note the frequent dislike by their opposition of being beaten by a gay team.

7. Reactions to straight football are often somewhat negative when discussing the atmosphere at games and their own experiences of having played in straight teams [as a number of the players had done].  There are however a few players who report positive responses to their sexuality in straight football teams.

8. Gay football is perceived as a meaningful alternative to “the gay scene” although the reality seems to be that the scene remains a strong part of the culture, but players go to venues as a team, thus redefining the way in which the scene is perceived and used.

9. Many players are adamant that playing in a gay team is not political, suggesting that personal goals are the primary motive for playing. However, growing commitment to the team and the increased sense of esteem that many report they gain from playing drives them towards recognising that their participation is, to some extent, political.  For some, this is a conscious action whilst for others it is unintentional. Participation of entire clubs in Gay Pride parades suggest that esteem and team commitment become, almost by default, political statements.

10. Personal growth, a sense of belonging, sharing one’s love of football with others and increased self-esteem and confidence figured strongly in the list of benefits from playing in gay teams.

11. Community health issues are evident from the number of players who report positive personal gains from the experience; furthermore, many feel, for the first time, that they genuinely belong within a community, with a number reporting gaining a sense of family.

 

 

 

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