28th August 2023
Event takes place in Manchester
Joyous, insightful, defiant and celebratory. Some of the words we heard to describe Friday's Football Pride event. The event was organised by Pride Sports as part of the Football v Homophobia campaign. The event first took place during lockdown back in 2020 and now became a physical gathering for the first time. A contingent from Scotland joined the incredible line up of speakers and participants exploring different aspects of LGBTIQ+ relationships with the beautiful game.
The first panel (see main photo) featured a look back at the Women's World Cup and featured FIFA referee Stacey Pearson, Manchester Laces Helen Hardy, Chris Paourus from Proud Lilywhites and Kick it Out, chaired by the BBC's Emma Smith. Panelists talked about the evolution of the women’s game, and celebrated how the visibility of role models and outspoken advocates profiled across the tournament increased despite the challenges in the wider context.
The next panel was a focus on the gamechangers in the men's game where the discussion centred on individual experiences of coming out and being authentic in the game - some by choice and some not - and how contributors navigated some of the volatile environments and challenges they encountered. Excellent contributions came from Scottish trailblazer Zander Murray and the inspiring referree Lloyd Wilson, alongside Liverpool referee Mikey Connor and Stonewall Champion Jake Williamson. The panel was hosted by BBC Broadcaster Mike Minay who also recorded a podcast at the event which you can listen to here.
One of our highlights of the day was an interview with the human rights expert Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana conducted by Natalie Washington from Football v Transphobia. And amongst the many other highlights was a panel looking at the development of the phenomenal Truk United FC, and a showing of the film 'Realness with a Twist'.
Representatives from Scottish fan groups also joined the day and had a lot to reflect on with a look back at the last 10 years of experiences from fans groups. A striking range of experiences with some clubs going the extra mile in supporting their fans groups, to some groups folding due to issues including a lack of support from their clubs. Listening to the experiences of Dutch fan groups shared by Chantal van der Putten of Roze Kameraden was also a sobering reminder of how much we still have to do to ensure that we can all have pride in football.