English Football, Sexuality, and Homophobia: Gay Fans' Perspectives on Governance and Visibility

David Letts, Rory Magrath

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Professional football (soccer) has typically been a hostile and volatile environment for sexual minorities. In recent years, however, a significant body of academic evidence has documented how lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people are becoming increasingly accepted in the football industry (e.g., Cashmore & Cleland, 2012; Cleland, 2015; Cleland, Magrath, & Kian, 2018; Magrath, 2017a, 2017b, 2018; Magrath, Anderson, & Roberts, 2015). Problematically, however, this research has been largely restricted to the attitudes of ostensibly heterosexual male fans, and has thus, inadvertently, excluded the voices of the LGBT+ community. In this chapter, we address this void by presenting data collected in the first-ever academic research dedicated to the experiences of LGBT+ football fans. Specifically, we draw on semi-structured interviews with 35 openly gay male fans to address the role of the Football Association (FA) – English football’s governing body – as well as the clubs themselves, in tackling homophobia in football. Additionally, we also explore the effectiveness of the Rainbow Laces movement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Sport Fans and Fandom
EditorsDanielle Sarver Coombs, Anne C. Osborne
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780429342189
ISBN (Print)9780367358310
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks


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