Tackling homophobia in football: The rise of LGBTQ+ football fan groups

LGBT+ football flag

The LGBTQ+ football fan groups helping people connect to the game and saving lives along the way


A recent study by Stonewall found that 20% of football fans surveyed felt anti-LGBTQ+ language at matches is acceptable because it is “only meant as banter”.

While 43% of LGBTQ+ young people surveyed explicitly felt sporting events are not a welcoming space for them or that the terraces are not a safe space to express their true sexuality and/or gender-diversity.


In spite of all the obstacles faced by LGBTQ+ football fans over the years, there has also been unity. Queer folk, as we know, have a way of finding each other.


This is the story of ‘The Rise Of LGBTQ+ Football Fan Groups’. Find the full audio episode at the bottom of this article (it’s AMAZING), and here’s host Christian Hewgill to tell you a bit more about it.

Christian Hewgill radio presenter
Radio presenter, and patron of Leicester City’s group Foxes Pride, Christian Hewgill

Plenty of LGBT+ people aren’t football fans. But guess what? Plenty are!

LGBTQ+ football fan groups have been popping up all over the UK for years now. Fundamentally they’re a bunch of fans from one particular club who don’t just have the team they support in common, but also the fact they’re LGBT+.


I’m a TV and radio broadcaster. And a lovely man from Foxes Pride, the fan group of Leicester City asked me to be its patron a few years back. It’s one of the proudest moments of my career.

Why? Because it matters.


I was confused about my sexuality for a long time. I didn’t allow myself to consider the possibility that I’m gay when I was young for many years. A big part of that was because I didn’t think my passion for sport and being gay were compatible.

I was wrong.


LGBT+ fan groups show people who are going through today what I went through all those years ago that it’s possible to be gay, bi, trans, asexual, whatever – and whatever you want to be. A broadcaster, a diver, a footballer, a commentator, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker.


So when Virgin Radio Pride asked me to make a documentary on fan groups – I thought I knew why they were so important. I didn’t think I’d learn anything. How wrong I was.


I had no idea that the fan groups had helped previously homophobic straight people, well, get it.

I had no idea that they’d helped people to move on from dark early memories.

I had no idea that they were helping to shape the future of sport.

I had no idea that in some cases they’ve been life saving.


Matt Horton presenter
Matt Horton, Virgin Radio Pride presenter and producer of ‘The Rise Of LGBTQ+ Football Fan Groups’ is a HUGE West Ham United fan


It’s not all seriousness. The documentary has some fun along the way. And I weave in my slightly dry sense of humour yet slightly camp taste in music.


But football fan or not. LGBT+ or not. The Rise of LGBT+ Football Fan Groups on Virgin Radio Pride has stories in there for you.


Take a listen to The Rise of LGBT+ Football Fan Groups  below (Apple link at the top of the article): 

Listen to Virgin Radio Pride UK online, via the Virgin Radio app, in the Apple or Google store, or via DAB Digital radio in London and Scotland. You can also catch the Virgin Radio Pridecast on SpotifyApple Podcasts, or wherever else you get your podcasts.