Often Partisan

Homophobia and Blues

Two Birmingham City fans were ejected from the American Express Community Stadium on Saturday after stewards and safety officers were informed of their homophobic behaviour by other Blues fans in the away end.

Homophobia in football is a tricky issue and one that is very much in the news recently with the announcement from former West Ham and Everton player Thomas Hitzlsperger that he was gay.  The German is the most high profile player to come out of the closet along with LA Galaxy winger Robbie Rogers.

As the report from Kick It Out is very short I don’t really want to comment on it further – I’ve seen some people mention that they didn’t like the idea of fellow fans “grassing” on their compatriots and I will admit – I would want to know exactly what happened before I congratulated anyone on being brave enough to go to a steward and force an issue. I’ve blogged on this before a long time back and back then I said (and I stand by) that it’s not a black and white issue, that I think some humour comes from the acceptance of Brighton being well known for gay culture and I’d disappointed if someone was thrown out for something as simple as that.

I don’t agree however with people who think it’s wrong for fans to complain when people cross the line. I can’t agree with people who think it’s overly sanitising football for fans to have the temerity to say a line has been crossed – yes some people might be sensitive but I’m happy enough to say that there is stuff I wouldn’t tolerate hearing someone shout at a football match and I wouldn’t hesitate to point someone out who is bringing shame upon my club by acting in that manner.

Is football ready to accept gay footballers? This piece about gay Gainsborough Trinity player Liam Davis from the Lincolnshire Echo suggests that we might be getting closer but I still think it’s a long way off. There have been some initiatives to try and make it plain that it’s not a big deal what sexuality someone has – I liked the rainbow laces of the “Right Behind Gay Footballers” campaign that Paddy Power led last year and despite the innuendo of the title of the campaign the aims resonated with me – it’s not about forcing people to come out but showing support that people who might want to. However I think the machismo on the terraces mean it’s still a terrifying prospect for any footballer who might be contemplating being open about homosexuality and I think it will take some strong characters to change that.

On a side note, I have disabled comments on this piece. Unfortunately I’m not able to devote as much time to moderating comments as I once was and as this is a thorny controversial issue I cannot allow comments to go unchecked. With this in mind I also should bring to people’s attention the fact that due to my work commitments and the fact comments made by posters on this blog have now brought three legal threats against it I am considering disabling comments completely.

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