Every year in the UK one month is marked to celebrate and honour the lives and achievements of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people. February is LGBT History Month. In looking back to the past, we recognise achievements and note shortcomings, whilst gaining perspective for the future. The national campaign for 2011, to be continued in 2012 focuses on challenging homophobia in Sport, as we proudly prepare to host the 2012 London Olympics. As a nation, we will be united, regardless of sexual orientation, competing for Olympic gold.
Homophobia in sports is an issue that has been going on for years; on the field, in the changing rooms, on the terraces and in media reporting, with little done to tackle it. With only a handful of major sports persons who have publicly 'come out' over the years, issues of homophobia are immense within the sporting world. Players fear they may lose their job, lose their sponsorship, not be picked to play or taken less seriously as a player. They may face abuse from team mates, spectators and the media. With all these concerns it is no wonder very few have taken the step to be willingly acknowledged as an LGBT sports person.
Thus, Men's Sexual Health has dedicated their own campaign to LGBT history month and the issue of homophobia in sport with "Show Homophobia the Red Card". This poster will be sent to all gyms, sports centres, and football clubs across Wiltshire and Swindon, to be seen by a wide audience, promoting discussion and hopefully opening a few people's minds. We will visit the football clubs during matches and hand out flyers, and have stands and displays where the public can engage with us. We aim to challenge pre-conceptions and help sports fans and participants see, there's no place for prejudice in sport.
Men's Sexual Health has been working closely with the Trowbridge Tigers, Wiltshire's Gay Friendly football team, who recently took part in the Gay Games in Cologne, Germany, a personal highlight for the team.
When asked why they think there haven't been many public football players to have come out player Nick Pitcher says, "well when you look at what happened to Justin Fashanu, when he was disowned by members of his own family and being dropped into the reserves and all the adverse publicity, he went and committed suicide, so it doesn't set the stall up for other players to come out. And it's obvious that every football team, and every league, there are going to be gay players, but they can't come out because of the repercussions, which is a great shame."
And its for reasons like that, Men's Sexual Health believe this to be a very important campaign so that things start to change, so more players feel safe in the sport they enjoy.
Men's Sexual Health has also made links with The Justin Campaign, which was founded to demonstrate that ten years after Justin Fashanu's tragic suicide in 1998, homophobia is still hugely prevalent in the world of professional football. In 2010 they launched the first International Day Opposing Homophobia in Football and with the second date coming up very soon, Februrary 19th, we ask you to get in touch with your local team and see how you can work together to mark this day, or get in touch with the company to find out more about the work they do.
The F.A. have also recently gave their full backing and support to The Justin Capaign, and have also produced an advert targeting homophobia in football, please be aware the below video clip contains strong language that could cause offence.
If you would like further information, request the poster, or like to talk about any form of homophobia you may have suffered, please do get in touch.