‘Does your boyfriend know you’re here?’ The spatiality of homophobia in men’s football culture in the UK

Jayne Caudwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, I focus on football culture in the UK and the presence of homophobia in the men’s professional game. In particular, I explore how football fans, through sound and visual display, produce homophobia within the spaces of the stadia. In this way, I offer a contribution to existing debate surrounding the spatiality of sexuality and the social and political significance of sporting spaces. I demonstrate the normalisation of homophobic chanting and homophobic gesticulation, and suggest that it is dominant ideas surrounding gay men’s sexual activity, penetrative sex and men’s bodies, which are central to these articulations of homophobia. I explain this emphasis on men’s embodied sexuality and sexual activity in relation to the materiality of men’s bodies in sport spaces. Moving on from this context, I draw on preliminary research to consider the possibilities that may work to contest dominant versions of homophobia and the existing spatialities of homophobia in men’s football. Discussion is based on semi‐structured interviews with two men heavily involved in The Justin Campaign – an ‘anti‐homophobia in football’ project established in Brighton on 2 May 2008. The Justin Campaign seeks to make visible the tragic death of Justin Fashanu (on 2 May 1998) and his plight as a young gay black player. Fashanu remains the only professional footballer to date – in the UK – to publicly self‐identify as ‘gay’. This is significant and I consider past treatment of Fashanu as well as the campaign’s celebration of him to drive their anti‐homophobia initiatives. In all, the paper has two fundamental aims, firstly, to address the lack of existing debate on the spatiality of homophobia in men’s elite football and secondly, to raise awareness of the recently established: The Justin Campaign.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-138
Number of pages16
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • men’s football
  • homophobia
  • men’s sexualities
  • The Justin Campaign


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