Introducing Pride 2022 

 

Each year, June is often referred to as Pride month. It’s a month dedicated to celebrating all things LGBT+ around the world.

 

Pride is usually celebrated with large parades and marches. Most of the events over the last two years have been cancelled, it’s therefore expected that things will be bigger and brighter this year. However, 2022 is special for another reason - Pride will be 50 years old. 

 

In support of 2022 Pride, we’re publishing 4 articles across the month on our website: 

  • What is Pride?
  • Pride in Football
  • Pride at Hanwell
  • A 22/23 season takeaway. 

 

If nothing else, it should help explain why you’ll spot a rainbow flag or two over the coming weeks! 

Happy Pride 2022 🏳️‍🌈

 

1. What is Pride? 

 

American Origins 

 

The origins of Pride are more political than a celebration. It started off as a response to a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a popular LGBT+ pub within Greenwich Village in New York, on 28th June 1969.  

 

At that time, members of the LGBT+ community, and all LGBT+ venues, were closely monitored by the authorities. Several state laws sought to curb what was defined as transgressive behaviour - a violation of moral or social boundaries. For example, people were required to wear at least three pieces of clothing that were appropriate to their biological sex in an attempt to curtail drag. 

 

Although raids often happened, the authorities would typically tip off the bar owners that one was imminent however, this did not happen this night. Views differ on what made this night different and why people suddenly decided to fight back. 

 

When the police raided the venue, they took those arrested outside but there was a delay in the arrival of the police vans that were expected. Gradually a large crowd had gathered and when a woman, struggling with four officers, cried out for help it led to what we now know as the Stonewall Riots.

 

A year later, people got together to commemorate the event and how those involved had stood up for themselves and their community. It became an annual event which was named Gay Pride to indicate that those involved were proud to be who they were.

UK Pride

 

In the 1950s, the UK government set up a group to look at how gay men were treated under the existing legal system. They published a report that recommended that the law in place at the time should amended. 

 

At the time, the law classified homosexual activity as illegal and punishable by life imprisonment. In respect of women, her private life wasn’t criminalised, as such the law ignored lesbians. The government didn’t make the recommended changes at first and gradually more and more people started to campaign for the equal rights. In 1967, the Sexual Offences Act was passed which decriminalised private homosexual acts between men aged over 21. The law was not however changed in Scotland until 1980 and in Northern Ireland until 1982.

 

In 1972, the first Pride festival calling for equal rights took place in London in July with around 2,000 people taking part. By 2019, over one million people celebrated Pride in the UK's capital and similar events now take place all over the country and worldwide.

 

UK Pride events have continued to focus on equal rights issues:

  • In 1988, a law called Section 28 was introduced which meant that teachers were not allowed to 'promote' gay relationships in schools. This effectively prevented teachers from talking about being gay and therefore only served to reinforce homophobia in society. It wasn't until 2003 that Section 28 was overturned.
  • In 2000, the law was changed to allow gay and bisexual people to be in the armed forces.
  • In 2002, the law was changed to allow gay people and unmarried couples to adopt children.
  • 2004 marked the start of civil partnerships which gave gay people similar rights to those who were married. However, as they didn’t exactly provide the same benefits and protections over time it became clear there was more work to do.
  • In 2008, it became illegal to encourage homophobic hatred. Last year, more than 7,000 hate crimes were reported against gay men and women in the UK.
  • In 2013, gay marriage was made legal in England & Wales. Scotland followed in 2014 and Northern Ireland in 2020. 


In the last couple of years the focus of Pride events, in the UK at least, have started to move on from these equal rights achievements. Typically they now aim to address LGBT+ related social and self acceptance issues. 

& finally…The Rainbow Flag 

 

Arguably the most colourful of any flag, the rainbow flag has a history of its own. Although very well known, the flag was not always the emblem of the LGBT+ community. 

 

Initially the pink triangle symbolised the community. It originated in Nazi Germany where those whose sexuality did not conform with traditional ideas were forced to wear it. Therefore it was felt that something more positive was needed.

 

The rainbow flag was designed by Gilbert Baker. The original with eight different coloured stripes was flown at Pride March in 1978. Due to fabric shortages the pink and turquoise stripes were dropped. Each colour has a meaning: Red for life; Orange for healing; Yellow for sunlight; Green for nature; Blue for serenity and Purple for spirit. 

 

As you maybe aware, the flag has been updated in recent years with the expansion from L&G, to LGB, to LGBT and finally LGBT+. However, that’s definitely a tale for another time. See you next week for ‘Pride in Football’.

Russell Simpson

08 June 2022

2. Pride In Football

It’s often speculated why there are currently no openly gay professional players? How many are there?

Will any come out? What will the reaction be?

 

Several reasons may stop a gay footballer coming out:

  • Fear of physical, verbal and online abuse. A glance across social media reveals a multitude of ugly comments in response to any mention of equality for LGBT+ people in the game.
  • Career concerns if there’s a reaction from their club and/or teammates, both immediate and in the future. 
  • Potential financial implications such as the withdrawal of a sponsor, especially for those at the highest level. 


There’s been a lot of press coverage on such developments over recent months but is men’s football really ready for a top-flight gay footballer?


Setting the ball rolling…

 

Justin Fashanu was considered a groundbreaker. In 1981 he became the country's most expensive black player with a £1m move to Nottingham Forest. He’d grown up in foster care in Norfolk, alongside his footballer brother John, and had risen through Norwich City's youth ranks. Early in his career, he made it known privately that he was gay to the clubs he played for. He came out publicly later in his career becoming the first English professional footballer to be openly gay.

 

Fashanu agreed to an exclusive with The Sun newspaper as his method of coming out. They ran the headline as "£1m Football Star: I AM GAY" on 22 October 1990. In the article, he claimed to have had an affair with a married MP whom he first met in a London gay bar. A few weeks later, his brother John Fashanu agreed to an exclusive with The Voice, a British national African-Caribbean weekly newspaper, under the headline "John Fashanu: My Gay Brother is an Outcast".


Fashanu was interviewed for the cover of Gay Times in July 1991 where the situation was summarised as:


The Sun dragged out the tale with titillating stories of sexual encounters with unnamed MPs, football players and pop stars, which, he claims, were largely untrue. The revelations, nevertheless, earned him a considerable sum of money but he says he was offered even more by others who wanted him to stay in the closet.

He admits that he wasn't fully prepared for the backlash that followed and his career in football ... has suffered "heavy damage". Although he's fully fit, no club has offered him a full-time contract since the story first appeared.

 

In 1992 he agreed to front Loud’n’Proud, a new national radio series aimed at LGBT+ youth. However, the pilot with Fashanu presenting was turned down by BBC Radio 5. It was later commissioned with a female presenter for BBC Radio 1.

 

Fashanu had varying levels of success as a player afterwards until he retired in 1997. Unfortunately he committed suicide in 1998 following an allegation of sexual misconduct in the USA which he always denied.


Recent developments…

 

For three decades Fashanu remained the only male footballer to reveal his sexuality while playing professionally in the top tiers.The following article from July 2020 details the concerns of an unnamed Premier League footballer. He revealed that he’s gay in an open letter but that he isn't prepared to come out publicly.

 

https://news.sky.com/story/unnamed-premier-league-footballer-reveals-he-is-gay-in-letter-but-says-he-cant-go-public-12026295

 

On a more positive note, in the last two years there have been a small number of players and officials deciding to come out as can be seen in the articles and video below. 


Matt Morton, Thetford Town (2020)

https://www.attitude.co.uk/article/thetford-town-fc-footballer-matt-morton-reflects-on-coming-out-as-gay-1/23855/

 

Josh Cavallo, Adelaide United (2021)

https://youtu.be/_itPhK1aNZQ

 

Jake Daniels, Blackpool (May 2022)

https://www.skysports.com/amp/football/news/11095/12614531/jake-daniels-blackpool-forward-becomes-uks-first-active-male-professional-footballer-to-come-out-publicly-as-gay

 

Scottish Referees (June 2022) 

https://www.gaytimes.co.uk/life/scottish-referees-craig-napier-and-lloyd-wilson-come-out-as-gay-in-heartfelt-statements/amp/

 

The recent announcement from 17 year old Jake Daniels has been described in the media as a “game changer” or a “turning point”. Whether this is true or not has yet to be seen however, recent events do give hope that things may finally be starting to change. 


Russell Simpson

24 June 2022