We spoke to Brian Silk, Chairman of the London Unity League about his experiences in football and why campaigns like Rainbow Laces are important in making football inclusive.
Why was the London Unity League started?
The London Unity League was started in 2006. The idea was for the league to be a home for the LGBT+ friendly football clubs in London. Central to the leagues ethos is to be competitive but friendly.
Why are campaigns like Rainbow Laces so important?
Rainbow Laces is an opportunity for football to show its support for LGBT+ inclusion. In an visible way, professional football clubs and others can raise awareness of the issues that still face LGBT+ people around football and can prompt conversations about how to address them.
Do you think there will be a time when football does not need such campaigns?
This is quite a hard question to answer and I’d like to be able to say ‘yes.’ Football has made great strides in recent years but there is still further to go. We still don’t have an ‘out’ gay male professional footballer at the highest levels in this country. And I would also point to some of the negative responses to clubs’ tweets of their support for Rainbow Laces. So there is definitely still a need for campaigns like Rainbow Laces. When that need will no longer exist, it’s hard to say.
How important are visible LGBT+ allies in football?
Allies are so important in standing with LGBT+ communities in making football a game for all. The LUL has a significant proportion of straight players and supporters. They are helping to break down barriers and give the LUL and our clubs visibility and a voice in wider society. Equality for LGBT+ people is everyone’s issue and allies exemplify that.
Brian Silk, Chairman of the LUL with Jay from Millwall Romans FC