Monday, March 08, 2004

England's Football Association Fights Homophobia

I never think of sports associations, sports clubs, or athletes as getting involved in the fight against homophobia. In fact, I never think of these groups doing anything but getting more money for themselves, irrespective of the impact it has on those around them.

I am pleasantly surprised to learn about the England Football Association's (the FA) campaign against homophobia. The FA is leading the way in the fight against homophobia in sport, and the Dutch and Spanish football associations are turning to the English model for plans in their countries!

The FA's commitment to this campaign is not just political or theoretical. In 2002, the Stonewall FC (Football Club) won the top of Middlesex County League Premier Division and reached the finals of the League Cup. It's name should give away its uniqueness, but for the uninitiated, Stonewall FC is a team comprised of gay men. In most sports, gay men and lesbians must form their own leagues and compete against one another. I am amazed that a team of gay men is in a league that is part of a nation's professional association. This must be unprecedented.

Discussing homophobia in public is the only way to eradicate it. The more you speak up about it, the more likely it will become unacceptable.

As an American, I can't imagine any official sports governing body allowing a team of gay men to participate in their sport. There'd be some Bakke-like cries of reverse discrimination, and talk about homosexuals being bad role-models for children, and a bunch of other fundamentalist lies. In our so-called free country, there is little room for those who do not fit into a rigid mold of normalcy.

Any effort to fight homophobia is noble. The FA is to be applauded for taking this bold and unprecedented step!


The FA's article about the "Football For All" program

The Official Site of Stonewall FC

The European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation