The founder of Brentford’s LGBeeT group Gemma Teale tells us about last week’s #CallitOut symposium - an event held in Manchester celebrating the growth of the LGBT fan movement...
Ahead of the Supporters Summit and AGMs this weekend gone, I headed to Manchester for the first Pride in Football Symposium, #CALLITOUT held at the National Football Museum.
Pride in Football was founded in 2014 as an umbrella organisation to bring together the new LGBT+ football fan groups that were being formed at club level.
With more than 30 club groups now running, this was a great opportunity for sharing learning, networking and socialising. Many FSF members attended the event, as well as national council members and staff.
The weekend started with events at the People’s History Museum in Manchester, and a visit to their exhibitions Never Going Underground and Continuum which both focus on the LGBT+ community.
After that it was on to the town hall to meet the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Cllr Eddy Newman, who gave an incredible welcome and talk about the importance of both football and the LGBT+ community, and about the incredible response in the city to the recent tragic events there.
Saturday morning saw the main event at the National Football Museum, set up in an open part of the museum to allow visitors to see and engage with the event, with some even tweeting their support!
Discussions ranged from how to combat LGBT-phobic chants and abuse on the “hate-panel” chaired by Rev Rachel Mann to the inspirational Paul Elliott speaking about the progress made in making football a place where everyone is able to enjoy a game.
The hashtag #CALLITOUT was a real theme through the event, and the workshop on how to challenge LGBT-phobic behaviour and language was well attended and allowed delegates to take practical advice back to their groups and clubs.
There was also an international flavour to the event, with a workshop on how LGBT+ fans can safely travel to watch the World Cup in Russia, as well as a wider panel discussion on LGBT+ rights and safety when travelling to watch internationals in general.
These sessions were incredibly informative with speakers from the Russian LGBT Sports Federation, FARE and Out in Slovenia joining the discussion.
And no Pride in Football event would be complete without a focus on the LGBT+ fan groups that drive it, with workshops for knowledge sharing and tips for recently formed groups and ideas for how the more established groups can push on.
Overall it was a really positive event, with delegates leaving with new ideas and renewed motivation to make watching football as an LGBT+ fan a safe, and enjoyable experience – as long as their team wins!