This month is the international month of ‘Football v Homophobia’ (FvH) and Leyton Orient is supporting the initiative.FvH is a campaign uniting fans, players, communities, grassroots teams, professional clubs and the Football Authorities in opposing homophobia and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) people in football. The FA, The Premier League and The Football League back the initiative.
Year round, FvH enables people to take action against prejudice and discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity in football, and to celebrate and welcome diversity in the game. This culminates in an international show of support in February to raise awareness of the issue and to showcase new and existing work. The campaign has been around since 2010 and manages to generate global attention. Fans and teams around the world, from Croatia to Mexico have taken part and across the UK there has been a massive show of support.
Leyton Orient are incredibly proud to announce that this year we are backing the initiative once again. Inclusion and anti-discrimination officer Lindsey Martin said: “We are proud to support this initiative at Leyton Orient. The players will be sporting warm up t-shirts in support of the campaign at our designated match against Bradford and as a Club we are looking to forge closer relationships with LGB&T groups in the local community.”
Homophobia and LGB&T discrimination has long been an issue in football. In 1990 the first professional football player in the UK to come out as gay, Justin Fashanu, had an intense struggle with his sexuality and how it was received in the game. More recently we have seen Robbie Rogers come out. Robbie retired briefly when he made the announcement about his sexuality. But now, following massive support from players and fans alike, he plays in the US for LA Galaxy. Only recently, former Premier League player Thomas Hitzlsperger also came out as gay. Both of these players have talked about the challenge of being gay and professional footballers, and the impact that anti-gay jokes and language can have on confidence and self-esteem.
More than twenty years after our first professional player came out, football is showing the promise of progress on the issue of homophobia in the game. However we still have some way to go. Even heterosexual players and supporters can suffer homophobic abuse, when fans and teammates think its ok to call someone ‘gay’ as a term of abuse or make jokes about someone’s sexuality because they don’t fit in with the team or simply because they’re not having a very good game.
Change always starts with education and Leyton Orient recognises its duty to lead the way on raising awareness about homophobia and LGB&T discrimination within the club and its community. Leyton Orient believes in a game where LGB&T people can be seen and heard, and appreciated for their contribution to the football family and we will work to create a safe and inclusive football environment for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We want our supporters to help us achieve this and have chosen our game against Bradford City on Wednesday 18th February as our designated game in support of the Football v Homophobia campaign this February. This is an opportunity for our supporters to also get behind the campaign and show everyone that Leyton Orient is no place for hate or bigotry.
Supporters can find out more about the Football v Homophobia campaign by visiting the website www.footballvhomophobia.com and can keep up to date with all the news by following the campaign on Twitter @FvHTweets or liking the Facebook page www.bit.ly/fvhpage.