‘Does your boyfriend know you’re here?’ The spatiality of homophobia in men’s football culture in the UK

Caudwell, J.C. (2011) ‘Does your boyfriend know you’re here?’ The spatiality of homophobia in men’s football culture in the UK Leisure Studies, 30 (2). pp. 123-138. ISSN 0261-4367

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Abstract

In this paper, I focus on football culture in the UK and the presence of homophobia in the men’s professional game. In particular, I explore how football fans, through sound and visual display, produce homophobia within the spaces of the stadia. In this way, I offer a contribution to existing debate surrounding the spatiality of sexuality and the social and political significance of sporting spaces. I demonstrate the normalisation of homophobic chanting and homophobic gesticulation, and suggest that it is dominant ideas surrounding gay men’s sexual activity, penetrative sex and men’s bodies, which are central to these articulations of homophobia. I explain this emphasis on men’s embodied sexuality and sexual activity in relation to the materiality of men’s bodies in sport spaces. Moving on from this context, I draw on preliminary research to consider the possibilities that may work to contest dominant versions of homophobia and the existing spatialities of homophobia in men’s football. Discussion is based on semi‐structured interviews with two men heavily involved in The Justin Campaign – an ‘anti‐homophobia in football’ project established in Brighton on 2 May 2008. The Justin Campaign seeks to make visible the tragic death of Justin Fashanu (on 2 May 1998) and his plight as a young gay black player. Fashanu remains the only professional footballer to date – in the UK – to publicly self‐identify as ‘gay’. This is significant and I consider past treatment of Fashanu as well as the campaign’s celebration of him to drive their anti‐homophobia initiatives. In all, the paper has two fundamental aims, firstly, to address the lack of existing debate on the spatiality of homophobia in men’s elite football and secondly, to raise awareness of the recently established: The Justin Campaign.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: men’s football; homophobia; men’s sexualities; The Justin Campaign
Subjects: L000 Social Sciences > L300 Sociology > L320 Gender studies
L000 Social Sciences > L300 Sociology
L000 Social Sciences > L900 Cultural Studies
L000 Social Sciences > L300 Sociology > L311 Sport and Leisure
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1080/02614367.2010.541481
Faculties: Faculty of Education and Sport > Chelsea School
Depositing User: Chelsea editor
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2011 11:30
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2012 15:23
URI: http://eprints.brighton.ac.uk/id/eprint/9334

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