LGBT FC: Telling our stories and love of the beautiful game

A podcast all about the culture of being an LGBTQ+ soccer supporter, LGBT FC has been making strides since its launch back in June; host ‘LAFCLuke’ is part of the MLS club’s Pride Republic supporters group; in this blog, he tells the story behind the pod and why he’s so passionate about building community…

By Luke H. Klipp

Just how many professional men’s football players take to the pitch every week who identify as gay, bisexual, or queer?

How many even know that about themselves, let alone feel they can be open about who they are with their family, friends, teammates, or their supporters?

We started the podcast LGBT FC (@LGBT_FCpod on Twitter and Instagram) to tell the stories of those who identify as LGBTQ in the footballing world.

Eleven episodes on, our (so far) Major League Soccer-centered show has highlighted the stories of younger, older, lesbian, queer, transgender, gay, and bisexual alike. Unabashedly ‘queer’, we end each interview asking our guests to tell us who they think is the ‘sexiest’ men’s player, because at the end of the day we need to have fun, and we might as well do it in a way that upsets the gender norms.

LGBT FC began as a project of the Los Angeles Football Club’s LGBTQ supporters group, Pride Republic, where the show’s founding co-hosts, Luke and Zaitouna, met over their love of the beautiful game.

Members of the Pride Republic fans group

UK-based readers may recognize LAFC as the club that got Welsh superstar Gareth Bale from Real Madrid at a bargain price. Only five years old, LAFC celebrates and embraces its place in the heart of Los Angeles, representing LA’s rich tapestry of cultures and ethnicities that span the globe, and carving out a space for a passionate fanbase in a region already long-saturated with professional sports.

Inspired by the joy that LAFC bring to football, and that Pride Republic lends to the visibility of the LGBTQ community among LAFC’s supporters’ culture, Luke and Zaitouna set out to uplift the experiences of LGBTQ people in the beautiful game, one story at a time, for an audience that extends beyond Southern California.

Already they’ve interviewed supporters in cities across the US and even a couple of Premier League fans in London whom Luke met on a recent overseas trip.

LGBT FC exists to shine a spotlight on a community that could otherwise be invisible outside of the one week of Pride-themed (or Rainbow Laces) matches that can sometimes feel more obligatory than heartfelt.

Homophobia runs rampant in this sport we love so much, and especially in the men’s game. The only way that changes is by telling our stories. As Harvey Milk would say, “We will not win our rights by staying in our closets.”

Milk understood that the best way to combat homophobia is to be unashamedly, unabashedly out and loud and proud, which is what LGBT FC is doing, one story at a time.

Pride Republic members protest Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill at LAFC’s match against Miami

As we near the 2022 World Cup, LGBT FC will shift its focus to the international tournament that, for reasons many others have already done solid work covering, should never have been in a nation like Qatar.

But, alas, the game that we love is beholden to the same forces that drive so much of our global economy, and in a space where it is rife with corruption and disregard for basic human rights.

Recently, Gary Lineker, whose goals helped lead England to a 1990 World Cup semi-final, stated he hoped one to two international men’s players would come out in Qatar, because “it would be amazing”.

As well-intentioned as his statement may have been, the reality would be far different for a player in his prime who might make this announcement, playing in a nation that criminalises being gay and during a tournament that may be the one and only chance for that person to compete on the international stage.

The past year has seen a remarkable shift, with three men’s professional players coming out, beginning with Josh Cavallo of Australia’s A League’s Adelaide United, followed by Jake Daniels with Championship side Blackpool, and then most recently with Zander Murray of the Scottish Lowland League’s Gala Fairydean Rovers.

Each of these men has shown tremendous courage and strength in telling their stories. And, yet, undoubtedly hundreds more players remain in the closet.

LGBT FC aims to change that. We may be in just one corner of the world, but that corner is also the global entertainment capital, so we have seen first-hand how simply being a presence on a grander stage can be enough to move hearts and minds.

We invite you to join us. Follow us on Twitter and/or Instagram @LGBT_FCPod. Subscribe, rate, and review wherever you get your podcasts. And tell your friends.

And say hello! Who knows? Maybe your story will be the one our listeners get to hear next.

Luke (right) with his husband Bryant at an LAFC tailgate, sporting their Pride scarves

Thanks to Luke and the LGBT FC podcast team! Follow on Twitter and Instagram at @lgbt_fcpod

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