This blog was not yet a twinkle in my eye when I travelled to London, UK to participate in the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association’s annual World Cup tournament in 2007. That year I had the good fortune to play on a team comprised of players from Washington, DC, Philadelphia and Toronto, all under the banner of the Washington Federal Triangles team (they supplied the crisp white unis for which I am ever-grateful; I look as handsome as I ever have in that team picture). It was on this team that I met my partner in do-goodery Craig, aka Lady Kennaway. Thus the seeds for this blog and the adventures herein were sewn on the pitches at Regents Park.
Deservedly, Craig has gotten a lot of press here but I met some other extraordinary people that week too. People like Dennis Fish, the vice-president of the Federal Triangles. I remember Dennis most for his energy, humour, and one of the finest hair-dos DC has to offer.
Dennis is also extremely organized. I found out about the Football v. Homophobia Initiative a little too late to organize any games here in Toronto but not so Dennis. Working with The Justin Campaign organizers, Dennis and his team the FTSC (Federal Triangles Soccer Club) Dixie Kicks arranged to play their regularly-scheduled Saturday game at the Fairfax Sportsplex in Springfield, VA wearing their pink and black Football v. Homophobia T-shirts.
The Dixie Kicks support the Football v. Homophobia Initiative, February 19, 2010
Dennis was kind enough to talk to me about the experience of “coming out” for a cause at his local sports facility.
K.S.: Tell me about your team and what it was like to participate in this event.
D.F.: We’re the FTSC Dixie Kicks. We play coed, indoor soccer during the winter at the Fairfax Sportsplex in Springfield, VA. We’ve been playing for the last three years, roughly. Most of our team is made up of gay and lesbian players, but we do have at least one straight player.
Before I committed us to anything, I emailed the team and asked if they were comfortable playing in “Football v. Homophobia” regalia. I actually didn’t think the response would be as positive as it was. Everyone was excited about it.
It felt really amazing playing in our [Initiative] shirts. We’ve never really made an issue of our being a gay team at the Fairfax Sportsplex, so in a sense, it was our “coming out”! Everyone on the team was super-pumped and proud. Proud of playing clean, quality soccer, and proud of being out gay athletes. Even our one straight player was just thrilled and could not have been more proud of her teammates.
K.S.: What was the reaction at the SportsPlex?
D.F.: The Sportsplex was great. I contacted the league director beforehand, and she was fine with it. The referee at our game was very cool, and even complimented our shirts and said it was a good thing we were doing.
K.S.: Why is it important to “come out” in this way? Does it matter if the other teams in that league know that you are gay?
D. F.: FTSC teams have been playing at the Fairfax Sportsplex for years. And I’m not sure if we’ve ever officially “come out” before. At the same time, we’ve never denied who we are. But, I thought the “Football v. Homophobia” event was the perfect opportunity to just be ourselves and play in support of this good cause.
I have no problem with other teams knowing I’m gay. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m who I am.
The final word today goes to Amal Fashanu, Justin Fashanu’s niece, who participated in the Initiative and gave an interview to the BBC about the Justin Campaign (click to see video of the interview).
[The Justin Campaign] is the first sign [of] moving towards a better football, a better game where everyone can be more open and who they want to be.
– Amal Fashanu
To learn more or to contribute to the Justin Campaign, visit their site at www.thejustincampaign.com.