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Beat around the Bush: QPR’s Barton must be applauded for supporting Stonewall campaign

PUBLISHED: 17:06 01 October 2013 | UPDATED: 10:33 02 October 2013

Players across the country wore rainbow laces in support of the Stonewall campaign against homophobia

Players across the country wore rainbow laces in support of the Stonewall campaign against homophobia

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Rangers blogger Annie Robb on her hopes for the ‘Right Behind Gay Footballers’ campaign

September 21 saw the launch of an anti-homophobia campaign by Stonewall with the support of Paddy Power, in which ‘rainbow laces’ were sent to all 134 league clubs. Players were asked if they would be prepared to wear them to show their support.

I was super-proud that QPR got right behind the campaign. Many players have since been proud to don the rainbow laces, and taken to social networks to show their support to #RBGF (right behind gay footballers).

Not only had QPR backed this important campaign, but our very own Joey Barton was a staunch supporter and a campaign ambassador to boot (see what I did there!)

I am prepared to applaud the good work that Joey has produced for us this season, but many cannot get over his previous history, and would still very much like to see him leave. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however putting that aside, he has to be applauded for backing such an important campaign.

Football is still very much seen as a ‘man’s game’, which is played in a very male arena, with much beer swilling, swearing and chanting. As a female this doesn’t bother me at all, and the girlies are more than capable of beer-swilling, swearing and chanting too (if they wanted to), but I would say it is becoming more open to us female fans, though you do still get the odd look suggesting you should be at home making the dinner.

When I Tweeted my support of Joey, and voiced my pride that QPR were right up there, I was not prepared for some of the abuse I received, from people who I had been talking to on Twitter for years. It was from a very small percentage, and I hope that it is a very small percentage who hold such archaic viewpoints.

Unfortunately, we were playing Brighton, which probably didn’t help, but there were people stating (amongst other unprintable phrases) “it’s got nothing to do with football”.

This person clearly didn’t see the point that being the very male arena, accessing millions of people, it is exactly the right place to aim such a campaign.

I consoled myself with the fact that at least it had started discussion, which can only increase awareness. In the ‘80s and ‘90s I clearly remember feeling uncomfortable with the gay chants aimed at certain players. Whoever those players were and whatever their orientation, being ridiculed and chanted at during the game is just wrong.

I’m not comfortable with the percentages game, but we have to get to the point where if a player wants to ‘come out’ then he or she can do so without any negative outcome. In this day and age, we should all be free to be and be with whoever we want to be.

The Kick It Out campaign has been a huge success in addressing the issue of racism in football, though you still hear of such incidents on occasions. Most of the violence has been dealt with, but you still see it now and again. Let’s hope that this campaign drives anti-homophobic behaviour to the same welcome demise.

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