Many of you who were at Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday will have spotted the graphics which appeared on the giant screens and LED trackside boards which announced that ‘Brentford FC is proud to celebrate LGBTQ+ history month’. So, we thought we’d take a moment to explain what LGBTQ+ History Month is all about.
First of all, in the UK, LGBTQ+ History Month takes place every February. This is to coincide with the anniversary of the abolition of Section 28, which were a series of laws designed to prohibit the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities. This legislation was abolished in 2003, and since 2005 LGBTQ+ History Month has been an annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and non-binary history. Its aim is to raise awareness of matters affecting LGBTQ+ people, to celebrate their impact on society and to combat the prejudice our communities face.
Within the Brentford community, the LGBeeTs is our supporters’ group for LGBTQ+ Brentford fans and allies. Their flag is proudly on display at the stadium. Gemma Teale, the co-founder of the LGBeeTs, discussed the flag in November in a discussion with central defender Zanka. She talked about the importance of being visible, signalling to others that the group exists.
"Obviously, some of that is for fans to say, ‘look, we're here with you’," she said. "If you're in this position, you can come to us. You are not alone.
“But also, particularly with our group flag, we're really keen that it's also there if there is a player or a member of staff who is in the LGBTQ community so that they know we are there are as well.”
The flag itself is based on the six-coloured Rainbow Flag, widely recognised as the symbol of lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBTQ+) community. But it also includes a chevron featuring black, brown, pink, pale blue and white stripes. These colours represent the marginalised people of colour in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the trans community.
Together, this forms the Progress Pride flag with the chevron arrow, pointing to the right on the flag, representing forward movement while acknowledging that progress still needs to be made on these important issues.
Zanka himself acknowledged that need for progress and referenced the importance of national campaigns to help encourage discussion and understanding. He said: “Each time that people are made more aware of the LGBTQ community, it becomes more normalised. When it becomes more normalised, people carry these lessons with them and discuss at home, in workplaces and in classrooms.
“In some places it will be further along, in others it will be further behind – that’s just the way the world works. Football is clearly a bit behind but the efforts are in place to make up for that and I think it’s only going to improve.”
The LGBeeTs is open to LGBTQ+ Bees fans and any allies within the Brentford family. For those who want to get involved and help make Brentford as an inclusive club as possible, please follow the LGBeeTs via @LGBT_Bees on Twitter or lgbeet_brentford on Instagram.