“The ultimate aim is for gay players to be a total non-issue, for a player to come out and everyone say “So what?”. To get there, we have to normalise the presence of LGBTQ people in football.”
They may have ruined their chances of a third FA Cup win, and their hope of Champion’s League glory was smashed by Barcelona, but that doesn’t stop any of the Gay Gooners supporting Arsenal FC, who are based at the Emirates Stadium in North London.
The Gay Gooners are a diverse bunch, with nearly half of those joined up are women. Having launched back in 2013 with only a handful of members, they now have nearly 500 – and probably growing! The group is also recognised officially by Arsenal, with a banner permanently up in the stadium.
Football has been around for a long time, and with that so have old traditions and views. Even today, it’s seen as very macho and a men’s game (both played and supported by), even though their fans are extremely diverse. So how on earth could a player be openly gay?
“Football is lagging behind society; there are still no openly gay players in the male professional sport, homophobic abuse happens on the terraces, and people don’t feel able to be themselves,” Dave Raval, Chair of Gay Gooners told us. “There are, however, many, many LGBTQ people involved in football, but until recently you wouldn’t have known as they didn’t feel able to come out. So we decided to change that. Instead of asking, ‘When is a player going to come out?’, we asked a different question – ‘When are the fans going to come out?’. After all, there are many more of us. So that’s what we decided to do.”
We already know that football is a very dominant and influential sport across the globe where change isn’t always easy. Well, at least it hasn’t been, but with news that possibly a couple of Premier League footballers are ready to come out at the end of the season, could we be seeing something positive for the LGBTQ community within sport, for fans and players alike?
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Photos with permission from Gay Gooners