LIANNE SANDERSON ON WHY PRIDE MONTH MATTERS AND HOW YOU CAN HELP
Pride Month is celebrated in June and commemorates the Stonewall uprising, which took place in New York City in 1969. This was the day when patrons of an LGBTQ+ bar fought back against police harassment and violence and is recognised as milestone moment in the battle for LGBTQ+ rights.
Our Women’s Football Consultant Lianne Sanderson is a big supporter of Pride month and is encouraging everyone to consider what the events are about and why they are needed.
“People say ‘why do we need Pride month?’ but for a lot of people a Pride parade is a space they can be what they want to be, one of the few times they can be themselves,” Lianne says. “There’s many LGBTQ+ people who are not open about their identity but they can take part in events and feel they are in safe space and are protected.
“Lots of people are carrying around issues to do with their sexuality and gender and so always be respectful and mindful in what you say. Banter is a word used to excuse things sometimes and I don’t like it. No one is saying you have to join the ‘PC police’, it’s just being aware that your wording can have an impact.”
Lianne speaks for experience, being the first professional British footballer to come out as gay. She says her experience was different to many others as she was clear about her identity and always felt she would have the support of those close to her.
Others are not so fortunate. While there are many high-profile gay players in the women’s game, there are very few in the men’s.
For Lianne it shows why there is still a long way to go.
“What used to be hostility in the media has been replaced by almost a “witness protection” type of attitude. It is understandable that a lot of gay footballers don’t feel comfortable with that sort of label,” she adds.
“You often hear the line ‘no one cares if a footballer is gay’ but we should care. It’s about making gay people feel they want to come out not that they have to.”
For Lianne, the main priority for Pride month is education, understanding and respect.
“When people are able to be who they are the feel lighter, its such a relief. Nine times out of 10 times people already know but that’s a frustration too as everyone is different. We are taught by the media about who ‘looks gay’; stereotypes like a flamboyant male or a butch female but that isn’t it. No one ‘looks straight’! Remember that everyone is different.
“As long as people are not being deliberately offensive or homophobic, always ask questions – it’s all about education. If you don’t know something, ask.”
“Players and parents are always reaching out to me and my door is always open to anyone, always confidential. The only thing I will say is I don’t have all the answers. I’m still learning things, too!”