- Paul shares his story as part of the Football v Homophobia initiative
- He is a member of the Club’s LGBTQ+ supporter group – Foxes Pride
- Football v Homophobia challenges discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression at all levels in football
Paul, 39, is part of a 200-strong group of Foxes Pride members, who work with LCFC to tackle homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in football, while promoting the welfare of the Club’s LGBTQ+ supporters.
He shares his experience of being a gay man in a football setting, while praising the work carried out by the Club to support the LGBTQ+ community.
The Football v Homophobia initiative is celebrated every February and exists to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression at all levels in football.
Paul said: “I came out in the early 2000s when I was at University, which was around the same time that I started supporting Leicester City.
“I was a bit of a late starter in terms of following the Club, so my allegiance to football and coming out as a gay man happened at around the same time.”
With members and friends of Foxes Pride in the city centre.
Asked about his experience of coming out, Paul says he felt supported by his family and friends although admits it took time for him to feel accepted in a football environment.
“My parents were very accepting of me coming out, but I appreciate not everyone has that same experience. It was smooth for me, and people were like ‘oh, you’re gay, that’s fine’ which helped and that’s how it should be.
“What I will say though is that in the first 10 years or so after I’d come out it felt weird being gay and being a football fan.
“It just felt like I didn’t belong in either group, for example my friends at the time, both gay and straight, had little interest in football so I felt as if I was an outsider in that respect.
“On the other hand, whenever I did see coverage of football in the media, or if I was going to games myself, I didn’t feel fully included then either.
“It took 10 years to finally feel welcomed and accepted in both the LGBTQ+ and football communities. You can be both. There is nothing wrong with being gay and liking football.
“I know it might be obvious now but 10 years ago I didn’t feel like that was something I could say.”
He feels his experience of being a gay football supporter has been mainly positive but stresses that more needs to be done for stadiums to be fully inclusive.
Meeting Club Ambassador Alan 'The Birch' Birchenall at King Power Stadium.
“My experiences have been fairly positive over the years, but it only takes a very small vocal minority to turn what should be a safe experience into a negative one.
“I have to say that King Power Stadium is becoming an increasingly safe place to be, and for me and my husband the people around us are very friendly and welcoming.
“It’s a different story away from home, though, and it feels like a bit of a lottery in terms of who sits and stands near you.
“Sadly, there have been a few times where I have been unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity of some nasty and unpleasant people.
“They shout homophobic abuse at the players and hearing that makes you feel so uncomfortable, even though they probably don’t realise the person next to them is gay.
“Their actions impact people who are in earshot of them and it does make you feel threatened and intimidated.”
Paul praises the work of LCFC in helping to raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ community and is grateful to the players for being high-profile allies.
“I don’t know if the Club are deliberately doing this, but they seem to be outdoing themselves every year when campaigns such as Football v Homophobia and Rainbow Laces come around.
Following the Foxes on the road.
“The amount of activity they do just keeps going up and up and the standard of it is really good.
“For the players to be involved in some of our activities is just amazing. We met Ben Chilwell and James Maddison in November 2019, Jamie Vardy signed the rainbow flag after the Sheffield United game earlier in the season and James Justin and Sophie Howard recently joined us on a Zoom call.
“All of this was incredible, and I want the Club to keep banging the drum and being visible on LGBTQ+ issues. They’ve been absolutely brilliant over the past couple of years.”
If you would like to become a member of Foxes Pride, or wish to be an ally to the Club’s LGBTQ+ supporter group, please click HERE.
For further details about Foxes Pride, please visit their website.
Please click HERE for more information about Football v Homophobia.
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