When I started thinking about this article, I thought ‘There is literally nothing on the subject of the LGBTQ+ community within football’, so I started asking around my friends.
One friend, who adores football to her very core, came back with two simple words “literally non-existent”. Even before I received this text, I knew that within football we had to talk about this particular community – especially since the subject of race is now highly talked about – but I feel like the LGBTQ+ community need our encouragement and support.
I have found multiple PRIDE campaigns to help those facing homophobia within football. The most well-known campaign is The Rainbow Laces campaign, which has the hashtag #RainbowLaces. It is ran by Stonewall, a foundation famously known for being founded by Sir Ian McKellen, amongst others. The aim of this campaign is to gain acceptance of anyone’s sexuality and/or gender within football.
So, this article is supposed to be about stigmas we believe that are in football. One stigma, which I believe is also the most important, is the fact that we label the game with gendered markers "men's football" and "women's football". Men's football has been played for centuries, dating back to Tudor Britain; therefore, the sport has developed in old fashioned times with old fashioned views.
It is seen as a "man's game" because it was brought through a "man's environment". Due to these views and attributes, it is difficult for men to identify themselves within the LGBTQ+ community. It has previously been not widely accepted in society for the majority of the time the sport has existed.
We are now in the 21st century so these views need to change, so the game can catch up with our modern views.
Whilst women are presumed to be immediately part of the LGBTQ+ community just because there are LGBTQ+ players who feel comfortable to open up about their sexuality. Women have gained confidence faster than their male counterparts to be themselves, as their sport has grown in popularity over the years and society has become more accepting of people's sexualities during the same time period. This seems to have led to a belief in some that all women footballers are lesbians - which is not the case. They just enjoy playing the sport we all love to watch so much.
There needs to be a middle ground for both sports, both genders - where not everyone is heterosexual and not everyone is a part of the LGBTQ+ community. People are just people.
Recently, there has been a matter in a newspaper article about a male footballer who is scared to define their sexuality in the public eye because he thought it would ruin his career. This player is still unknown. He should not be afraid of his identity, yet society has frankly not allowed him to be who he wants to be, who he really is. This HAS to change.
Why is it we allow anyone to be who they want to be, be that gender, sexuality, religion - yet we don't let football players be who they want to be? Are we being old fashioned? Are we set in our mindsets? Do we still see the sport as "a man's game"? Will it change the game of football if there are members of the LGBTQ+ community involved? No. It won't change how the players play, it won't change how people perceive football (except to say that men do not have to be straight to play this sport, for one).