August 11, 2004


You don't have to play it straight: Football has always been the preserve of red-blooded, heterosexual men, right? Think again. As the new season kicks off, Simon Fanshawe investigates how the beautiful game is being embraced by the gay community both on and off the pitch, bringing about a significant shift in the way many gay men think of themselves. Just don't suggest it's only because they like looking at the players' legs (Simon Fanshawe, August 11, 2004, The Guardian)

Five years ago it would have been inconceivable. Then, during the World Cup, a couple of pubs did it. But for Euro 2004 a whole rash of them up and down the country decided to exploit the commercial benefit of showing football live on television. The interesting part is that these were gay bars - and during Euro 2004 they were crammed. There are now thousands of bona fide gay footie fans, from Newcastle to Southampton, and Manchester to Millwall. The Gay Football Supporters' Network ( is growing faster than some gay dating sites. Football is coming homo.

When England played Croatia in June, a bunch of fans gathered in the gay pub the Duke of Wellington in Soho in London. David, a 35-year-old in PR, remembers: "There was just this whole bar full of lads. Everyone was cheering and roaring for England. It was like being in any straight pub. But then not. Beckham bent over to pick up the ball. Suddenly it was a gay pub again. Everyone whistled and hooted. Then the game carried on and when England won 4-2, the pub went beserk. Everyone was hugging and punching the air. The DJ came on the PA and said, 'Let's hear it for the lads,' and there was a huge cheer. And then he went: 'And here's Kylie!'"

Gay life is more a game of two halves now, and less a bathroom of contrasting colours. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is beginning to look old-fashioned and out of date. For every straight boy turned into a faux-mosexual with the flick of a camp wrist on television, there are at least two gay boys turning straight and coming out as football fans. And they are insisting on their share in what has been an often constricting gay identity.

Ian, a Leeds season ticket holder since he was eight, plays in the Terriers, a gay football club based in Yorkshire. "I'm 42, and when I first came out lots of other gay people thought it was strange that I was both gay and into football. But I have never felt contradictory and neither do any of my gay football friends."

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 11, 2004 12:36 AM

Yet more proof as to why football is the world's most dominant sport.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at August 11, 2004 8:09 AM


Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 8:14 AM

Too easy.

During a July 15, 1993, home game against the Philadelphia Phillies, I hit my first major-league home run, a towering shot against Larry Andersen, a tough right-hander. Sometimes sluggers stand at the plate for a few seconds longer than necessary to admire the ball as it disappears over the fence. My sprint around the bases, however, was the shortest trip Id ever taken. I made sure to touch all the bases, but it felt like my spikes never hit the ground. After the game, all I could think about was sharing it with Sam. I sped home, eschewing the usual clubhouse celebration.

Going the Other Way

Posted by: JorgeCurioso at August 11, 2004 8:36 AM

Yes, in soccer he'd have had a crowd of thousands to share the homoment with...

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 8:45 AM

Oh, metric football. Nevermind. I thought this was going to be a story about the hometown popularity of the 49ers.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 11, 2004 11:19 AM

Metric football?

Throw-ins, penalty kicks and free kicks are all measured in yards.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at August 11, 2004 11:42 AM

Ali - Do the French play by the rules?

Posted by: pj at August 11, 2004 11:45 AM


The only decent thing France produces now is footballers.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at August 11, 2004 12:23 PM


Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 11, 2004 12:44 PM

I knew it!

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at August 11, 2004 12:47 PM

Robert D:

A straight person who pretends to like soccer in order to fit in at a gay bar.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 12:55 PM

1) If all this business has to do with "privacy," how do we even know what this or that player may be doing off of the field of play?

2) Most seriously, players who are swinging from the wrong side of the plate pose a health risk where exchange of blood is a possibility.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 11, 2004 5:12 PM

If he's not gay and he doesn't like soccer, why is he in the gay bar to begin with?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 11, 2004 5:26 PM


For the Daquiris


You can't get Aids that way.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 5:32 PM

I thought France's best footballers were from Algeria. Or is it Morocco?

Posted by: jsmith at August 11, 2004 11:18 PM

I believe that just as a large part of secular society has come to accept that lesbians can be both beautiful and feminine, these same people will soon accept that gay men can be both rugged and masculine.

Posted by: Tom at August 12, 2004 3:34 AM

Rugged, sure. Masculine, hardly. Degrading yourself is never manly.

Posted by: oj at August 12, 2004 8:23 AM

What if a gay man degrades another man?

Posted by: Tom at August 13, 2004 6:33 PM

he does by definition

Posted by: oj at August 13, 2004 9:32 PM