It is increasingly clear that membership of the artistic community in the USA, if not elsewhere, requires at least one statement condemning the incumbent at the White House. For evidence, see the negative comments surrounding popular chanteuse Taylor Swift. She seems not to have paid her dues, focusing on remaining one of the most popular musical acts in the world, while making no comment whatsoever about Donald Trump. Perhaps no other singer of her stature could prompt a reproving Guardian editorial as an ‘envoy for Trump’s values‘ when she has done literally nothing for that connection to be made.
Inaction and indifference seem to be no longer an option these days. According to the Left, our current state of existence matches Pastor Niemoller’s seriously overused verse, First they came . . . This weekend sees the start of the ‘Rainbow Laces’ initiative. Premier League footballers will have rainbow-coloured bootlaces. Team captains will sport rainbow-coloured armbands. There will also be bespoke rainbow branding on ball plinths, pitch flags and handshake boards. The organisation behind all this is Stonewall, a pressure group for Gays, Lesbians and Other Sexual Minorities (GLOSM)*.
It’s all rather like a product launch. On August 24, 1995, Microsoft bought up the entire print run of The Times, which was given away to mark the launch of the Windows 95 operating system. If Stonewall have not paid the Football Association, they are benefiting from millions of pounds of free promotion.
It’s likely that Stonewall made the Football Association an offer they could not refuse. The horse’s head in the bed might have been the threat of a negative publicity campaign of denunciation for institutional homophobia, whether it exists or not. Much could have been made of the absence of any openly gay Premiership footballers. However, there are also no openly Chinese Premiership players either since Dong Fangzhuo left Manchester United. Perhaps the FA are also guilty of Sinophobia.
In The Guardian, Ryan Atkin, the first and only openly gay match official, said that ‘allies within the sport are more crucial than ever’. The implication of the need for allies is that there are enemies as well. Since this campaign and its backing group are associated with the politics of identity, it is strange that the identity of these enemies is never made clear anywhere. Perhaps they include those who do not constantly and openly demonstrate a positive attitude towards GLOSM issues and causes.
The Football Association seems to think so. Its website states: ‘All ten Premier League fixtures on Saturday and Sunday will include Rainbow Laces perimeter board advertising, pre-match Rainbow Laces flags and a host of other activities to highlight the hard work undertaken by clubs and their supporter groups to welcome fans in their stadiums, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.’ Exactly what constitutes this ‘hard work’ is not clear. These are not public bodies but commercial organisations, and as such they succeed when they can maximise audiences for their matches. Steps to do so would involve selling tickets at affordable prices and having good and safe physical environments for the supporters. The implication is that the current situation includes open homophobia from football fans, owners, officials, and players which needs to be changed. To prove their good intentions, Manchester United fans might now have to chant ‘Come On You Reds, Oranges, Yellows, Greens, Blues, Indigos, and Violets’.
The GLOSM lobby behave as if they are under siege from a hostile national mood that pervades the general population irrespective of any other demographic feature. They seem to think that we are but hours away from a rainbow-coloured Kristallnacht. While politicising their numerous causes, sometimes with Marxist rhetoric about abolishing the family, they stifle dissenting discussion and debate as homophobic. They also seem to be aggressively targeting the followers of our main religion whose founder preached turning the other cheek when attacked.
The most recent act of political violence affecting GLOSM space was actually transgender activists preventing feminists from assembling to debate transgenderism and then committing assaults against these women in the middle of London. It might be this culture of progressive intolerance that informed the FA. It would be cheaper and less troublesome to give in.
Like Taylor Swift over Donald Trump, the general public are actually indifferent over GLOSM issues, apart from disapproving of bigotry. The British Film Institute published a Top Ten of Lesbian and Gay television programmes in 2015. No one seemed to notice that none of the programmes mentioned came from mass-market commercial channels in the UK. Neither Sky 1 nor ITV had a show on this list. This is not because of a culture of homophobia. If there was money to be made in GLOSM programming the channels would show them. The public are making a free choice. They are not bigots for doing so.
It is a choice, however, that Premiership supporters no longer have. They are being subjected to a political marketing campaign because they are perceived as having an attitude problem that needs to be corrected. The Premier League states that it has joined the TeamPride coalition, which is ‘committed to encouraging fans, players, sports clubs and organisations to show their support for LGBT people’. Why there need to be such public displays of support instead of just quiet acceptance is not made clear. Perhaps quiet acceptance is actually homophobic. All the fans might want to do is to leave their worries behind for a few hours while they enjoy a top-class version of the Beautiful Game, all without the intrusion of politics of any kind. They are discovering, like Taylor Swift, that there is increasingly no place it cannot intrude.
*Pronounced ‘glow-some’, which sounds rather pleasant, and surely nicer than the clunky LGBT, pronounced el-gee-bee-tee.