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Saturday, February 26, 2011

PFA need to think again how they deliver education around LGBT issues in both the professional and grassroots football

The PFA (Professional Footballers' Association ) joined the FA and joint host Kick it Out and Pride Sports as panelists for a debate on homophobia in football as one of LGBT History Month's numerous events, in Sale last night.
A year ago PFA Chief Gordon Taylor stated 'homophobia was not high on the sport's agenda and that the time would be more appropriate when crowds are a bit more civilised.'
Then it was the turn of soon to be Chair of the PFA Clarke Carlisle who was interviewed for the Inside Sport BBC programme.The only player willing to speak out about the Taboo subject on camera, only once again an opportunity was missed to be radical and speak out to millions watching, and help get LGBT's seen in a positive light and issues around homophobia 'normalised' and 'usualised' when the following question about 'what would be the reaction of fellow players if someone said 'I am gay?' was answered by Mr Carlisle in this way:
"It would be a shock, there would be a stigma and an apprehension about it.It's understandable because its an all male environment."
"If i was in a dressing room or a showering area with 11 other fit females even if they had faces like slapped boots i think I would be aroused. So it proppers the question for me  would it be the same for a homosexual man because he will be in this environment with 20 athletic strapped lads and would it be the same for him? these questions would be asked , understandably so."
Ok,so he was the only one willing to talk about things , but why not tell it like it is, if you are going to use a dressing room area analogy you could say, 'there are 20 guys in here plenty of testosterone all naked one or two, maybe half of them at some point would be aroused as we are all human beings and that is a human reaction, so why should it matter if one of us was a gay man, it shouldn't.' Surely a better way of getting a message and a little education across?

Its seems that the players union organisation hasn't moved on too much from these thoughts 12 months on dispute representatives attending a number of meetings and conferences with LGBT campaigners and sports groups and listening to concerns.
The PFA were represented by former professional player Michael Bennett who said he was the person a player would be able to come too should they wish to discuss their sexuality with some one from the organisation.Michael also said 'things were in place to support a player' if they decided to make this decision.Unfortunately when I pressed for an explanation as to exactly what  'things to support a player ' actually consisted of , Michael backed up by the two other ex players present in Andy Hinchcliffe and Earl Barrett,all began to skirt around the answer some what and stated that they all delivered equality and diversity training at grassroots clubs and in schools as a whole to youngsters and they would advise what is acceptable behaviour on the field and what was acceptable language. and this was part of the training they now give out to young professional players they work with. I pressed again for an answer as to 'what things were there as support' finally Michael backtracked and said that there was not anything as such as this situation had never actually arisen yet no one had come to him for advise about coming out and it would be delt with as and when someone did decide to ask for support.
So basically we can take it then that the PFA have no strategy in place to help a player or a scholar who may want to open up about his sexuality, they have identified an ex professional to be the person to offer the support, but this person has had no experience of any LGBT issues that may need to be faced, no specific training around  the understanding of homosexuality no training or voluntary experience at an LGBT organisation  and not even any basic understanding of the lives of LGBT people as they have never engaged at any length with an LGBT community.Quite how then this seems to be the best option the PFA can deliver by the way of support to a professional player who wants to come out is beyond me!!
I fear the worst for anyone who ventures down this avenue if this is the best and only option the PFA can offer one of its members.
The whole panel of football representatives stated how they thought they needed to be more visible around what they are actually doing to challenge homophobia within the game. Cue then the PFA rep to speak to the small audience present about something they were pro-actively doing you may think, and talk about the the fact that a PFA rep was present for the TUC/Alliance photo shoot for FOOTBALL v HOMOPHOBIA day then, but no ,silence.Maybe then it was a chance to highlight the poster campaign they had put together over the past few months(whatever this may be), but no, silence.So  you can see the PFA have pushed the boat out and really got to grips with putting a strategy together and spending  what all of 350-400 pounds on challenging homophobia in the game.Not no where near enough when you consider just over a decade earlier the PFA paid 1.9 million  pounds for the Lowery painting 'going to the match', talk about get your priorities in order
Not being very visible then after all eh around  the homophobia in football issue.
Just think what they could have done, posters out to every football club dressing room and a couple of players seen in a picture as pinning it to the wall saying 'zero tolerance to homophobia' think of the knock on effect it would have had also if that image had been put in the programme for the next game, grassroots clubs ordering the poster to put up in their clubs  if its good enough for the pros to have an anti-gay poster up then so can we. Sometimes i despair, this is the time, the time for action, yet no one wants to be seen taking any.                                                                                                       

Monday, February 21, 2011

MEN.... support FOOTBALL v HOMOPHOBIA day 2011

michael o'neilljd samson

As we football fans kicked off last weeks FOOTBALL v HOMOPHOBIA events around the world Brooklyn based punky, housey, discoy, funky, arty, performy trio MEN kicked off their mini European tour to promote their first album TALK ABOUT BODY in London.
Just who are these men we hear you ask? Well none other than JD Samson (Le Tigre) Michael O'Neill and Ginger Brooks Takahasi with added extra bits from Emily Roysdon and Johanna Fateman.
The band bring to the stage an electric mix of feminism,trans awareness, sexuality,radicalness and politics with voice, rocking guitars, synth  and visual aids.For the last 3 to 4 years the band have written lyrics and tunes and gigged around both LGBT and mainstream venues gaining friends and 'family' along the way with releases like 'credit card babies' 'off our backs' and new single and big gay anthem for the ladies,  'who am i to feel so free' this album brings together all these crowd favorites and some newly penned songs with memories of plenty of audience interaction for those who attended the show.
I caught up with JD and Michael as they partyed on as DJ's after the London gig and they kindly posed for a couple of pictures with a FOOTBALL v HOMOPHOBIA t-shirt  to lend their support from 'the States' to the initiative after we discussed how difficult things can be both sides of the Atlantic for LGBT's who are wanting nothing more than to be themselves and live their lives as free and as equal as anyone else, but pressures to conform to 'the norm' or stereotype sometimes prevent this, and recent frequent physical attacks on LGBT's and the sadly ever increasing suicides show just how much homophobia still exists even in a modern western  progressive civilised and liberal world.
Homophobia is rife throughout football in fact in some cases its escalating, and the Justin Campaign's efforts in the last 3 years to raise awareness  to the issue is gaining much support from sports fans and other LGBT activists alike, lets hope this trend continues for many a year to come and like the song title from the new MEN album we can all challenge homophobia and 'MAKE IT REVERSE'.....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

football v homophobia statement of support from UEFA




With Football v Homophobia day rapidly approaching (Saturday 19th Feb), we are delighted to announce the release of an official statement from William Gaillard, UEFA Senior Advisor to the President, Michel Platini.
“UEFA is pleased to offer our support to the 2011 Football v Homophobia Day this weekend.
We believe that the principles of equality should run throughout football, there is no room for discrimination of any kind within our sport.
Through our partnership with the FARE Network and contacts with the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation we are actively contributing to the struggle against discriminatory attitudes and will continue to ensure that we do everything possible to support initiatives that challenge and educate.
My personal congratulations to the Justin Campaign for a creative and inspiring idea to remember a genuine pioneer of football.”
This wonderful public support of FVH comes after The FA gave their backing to the initiative a number of weeks ago.
We at The Justin Campaign are delighted by this statement from William Gaillard, which is yet another step on the road to a time when football can be enjoyed, without fear or persecution, by everyone.

Monday, February 14, 2011


  Update for you all on what's happening with some of the Football v Homophobia events.

     The above picture was a flash mob style event held in Manchester for F v H 2010.

This year if you live in Manchester, London or Paris you can be part of a EURO TRI-CITY 24 hour event 15/16th of FEB. Come along in your football colours (or any sports colours) and join in the photo shoots.
Raise the FOOTBALL v HOMOPHOBIA banner and raiser awareness.

Below are the details of the Manchester, London and Paris meets.

15th Feb Manchester.. Vanilla
39-41 Richmond st
m1 3wb

Vanilla will host the first photo shoot event from 7pm-11pm.
You can call in for a drink and raise you glass in honour of Justin Fashanu and help out to raise the banners, flags, shirts and other football colours (and sports colours) to raise awareness of homophobia in football and also celebrate LGBT history month.
I am planning a group picture for around 8pm with the banner  and then folk can have whatever sort of football v homophobia related picture they want for the rest of the evening whether they stay all night or just 5 mins.
Its hoped also that we will show the 40 min film Brighton Bandits.
We will give everyone flyer's and posters and stickers to take away with them to use on 19th at their own team event, club , uni/ student meet or workplace to recognise F v H day. we will give out T-shirts and footballs as prizes. The England flags will be signed to pass on to football authorities and government as a petition asking them to take action against homophobia in football.
As Vanilla is the women's venue we want as many girls and trans folk to attend the event.

Next day 16th i will transport the banner to London for a 9.00-.10.00am meet and photo shoot at 9.00am,  the event will take place outside the TUC headquarters on Great Russell ST. in London. We will recognise F v h day and LGBT history month with a banner and wearing football colours.

We will have the photo shoot outside TUC headquarters with TUC leaders including General secretary Brendan Barber union staff and Football authorities and representatives from the LGBT community, we will be handing out flyer's etc to the public etc once again.

An hour later i will head off on Euro star to Paris for the final photo shoot at 6pm (so as to be inside the 24 hour deadline) at either Stade de France or Eiffel Tower along with friends from Paris and hopefully members of the Paris Foot Gay football team. Again we will raise the banner and fly our colours for Football v Homophobia.

Below is a link for anyone who wishes more information of how they can be involved with FOOTBALL v HOMOPHOBIA day FEB 19th.