I’ve been playing for London Titans for three years now. We’re an LGBT football team and play in a number of leagues, including straight leagues and LGBT leagues.
It all started after I finished uni as I wanted to play football again and was just looking for a team to play for.
I thought that I might be a bit out of my comfort zone playing for a straight team so I searched on Google for LGBT football teams and found the London Titans and I’ve been playing ever since.
Being a part of Titans has had a great effect on me. I’ve become fitter by playing football and also become better because I used to be pretty poor.
So I’m a much better player now and it’s given me a family too, as we’re all really close and go out all the time. We go abroad together on football trips and it’s made me a happier person really because it’s great to be part of a team.
It’s important to have an LGBT space in football because while things are improving and I think football is doing everything it can, there is still homophobia within the sport.
Eight per cent of fans say they would stop supporting their club if a player came out, so having gay football teams and fan groups is an important part.
It makes people feel welcome in a sport that they may feel distant from and football wants to grow and attract more players and fans so having a safe space to go to is key.
Now, with the Rainbow Laces campaign and Football v Homophobia, it’s moving in the right direction.
I do feel that the defining point for LGBT people would be seeing a player, or someone high up in the sport, come out.
It would make people realise that it’s not a hypothetical situation but they would see someone who is gay and actually support them, so it’d be a big shift if someone actually comes out.
Personally, I’ve never faced anything homophobic on the pitch myself, but I know people who have done and on the terraces, you hear homophobic abuse directed at the officials and the players.
I’ve never heard it aimed at a fan, which is positive, because it’s obviously not an intrinsic homophobia of everybody but it could create a very hostile atmosphere for people who may feel it is targeted at them and until that’s eradicated, those people will always feel vulnerable and intimidated.
After the summer that we’ve had, with everyone coming together after the success that the Three Lions had, it has helped being the nation as a whole together.
But it’s yet to be seen if it’s actually helped bring LGBT people closer as a community in itself but with the campaigns and improvements, hopefully things are moving in the right direction.
To celebrate the 2018 rainbow laces campaign as well as our new partnership with Stonewall, next Friday sees the Middlesex County Football League game between Stonewall FC and Wilberforce Wanderers take place at Wembley Stadium.