Tottenham Hotspur’s LGBT+ supporters association, the Proud Lilywhites, has been nominated for a gong in the Football Supporters Federation annual awards.
The Proud Lilywhites, was launched in 2014 and is one of six supporter groups to be shortlisted for the Fans For Diversity Award with the winner being announced at a ceremony on 4th December in London.
Commenting on the nomination co-chairs Chris Paouros and Simon Gray said:
“We’re delighted that the Proud Lilywhites work has been recognised among the football supporting family and are really pleased that the work of LGBT+ fan groups is being highlighted with two of the six nominations going to LGBT+ groups. The field is really strong with some great work being showcased; it really illustrates that being a football fan is also about being part of your community.”
The fan group’s three key objectives are to educate, to socialise and to campaign and this year has seen the association excel in all three. 2017’s key achievements so far include:
- Receiving positive coverage in a number of national newspapers, LGBT+ websites and football media for its handling of the news of the signing of Serge Aurier. The statement around the transfer saw the groups biggest social media impact, with Twitter impressions topping 260,000
- Spearheading Tottenham Hotspur’s work in the Fare ‘football people’ fortnight of action
- Facilitating a workshop at Pride In Football’s ‘Call It Out’ conference in alongside the Club’s Head Of Supporter Services
- Speaking on the panel for Kick It Out’s ‘evening at the AMEX’ alongside Liam Rosenior, Hope Powell, Anwar Uddin and Sophie Cook
- Appearing on a panel alongside Greg Clarke at the Stonewall Rainbow Laces Summit
- Launch of the Football V Homophobia (FvH) month of action with keynote address from Donna Cullen, Tottenham Hotspur Executive Director
- Diversity and equality training session with Senior staff at White Hart Lane
- Various media opportunities include Sky Sports, BBC, 90 Minutes, Guardian Football Podcast and more
- Regular match day meet ups both at Wembley and in other venues for TV screenings
Commenting on the nomination, Donna Cullen, Tottenham Hotspur’s Executive Director:
“This nomination is testament to the fantastic work that Proud Lilywhites delivers promoting inclusion at Tottenham Hotspur – something that the Club is extremely passionate about.
“We should like to take this opportunity to wish Proud Lilywhites the best of luck at the Fans for Diversity Awards, alongside all other nominated organisations who are truly making a difference within our game.”
Future plans for the Proud Lilywhites include:
- Activities to promote Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign
- A key event to mark the Football vs Homophobia Month Of Action / LGBT History Month
- To increase the number of members in the group
- To work collaboratively with the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation
- To help the Tottenham Hotspur with diversity training for staff at the club
- Increased awareness raising of LGBT issues among the wider Spurs family.
The results of the awards will be announced at a glittering ceremony near Tower Bridge with other award nominees including for player of the year Spurs heroes Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris, the ceremony will definitely be a night to remember.
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A number of LGBT+ and ally fans, bloggers and media have asked us for comment on the signing of Serge Aurier given his well-publicised history.
We were initially unhappy with the signing, but given our positive dialogue with the Club we would like to use this as an opportunity to build bridges and make lasting change.
Football has the power to transform individuals’ lives and entire communities. At its best, it doesn’t merely delight us: it can provide us with a chance to transcend geographical boundaries and learn to work and play and celebrate together. Players, Clubs and the Football Authorities need to take this responsibility seriously, so what happens when players such as Serge Aurier who have been openly homophobic in the past join a new Club and have a fresh start? It actually gives us an opportunity to talk about the kind of game we want to see, players we want to support; the kind of Clubs we want to be and make effective and deep-rooted change.
We started the Proud Lilywhites in 2014 because we wanted to ensure that every Spurs fan, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity felt safe to enjoy watching their football team, knew they had a community with which to watch it and felt that they belonged. Our flag, which stood tall at White Hart Lane, became a testament to this. We wanted to be at the forefront of social and cultural transformation via football — changing hearts and minds – being part of creating the conditions that ensure all LGBT+ fans and staff feel safe and welcome in the football family.
But this is a journey – we don’t want to recriminate. One of our main tools for change is education, so we’d like to see engagement with LGBT+ fans is at the top of Serge’s list. We’ve already done great work with Stewards, Club staff and fans and look forward to working with the Club and other supporters, to show Serge Aurier that Spurs fans are incredibly diverse, welcoming and loyal.
We all love this game and we want to win matches and trophies, but not at any cost. Homophobic language, when unchallenged, can have consequences: we have to be the change we want to see. Making change, player by player, even fan by fan if necessary, is why we’re here and we won’t rest until we’ve done it.
Welcome to the famous Tottenham Hotspur Serge, we look forward to you getting to know us.
Chris Paouros and Simon Gray – Co-Chairs, Proud Lilywhites
We were very disappointed to hear the “Chelsea Rent Boy” chant sung again on Saturday.
Whilst we are certain that 99% of supporters do not sing this with any intent to cause offence to our LGBT supporters, we must consider the impact. The term has been used over many years to victimise young homosexual men and it is disappointing to hear this chanted persistently at the Lane.
Let’s not kid ourselves that the ‘rent boy’ chant is somehow not homophobic. The dictionary is quite clear and as with the old, tired racist chants and noises that are thankfully a thing of the past, it’s implied to be insulting.
The term ‘rent boy’ makes the point that certain people aren’t welcome in our beautiful game. We know from our great work with the Club that they are completely supportive of the Proud Lilywhites and are committed to ensuring our stadium is a safe and inclusive environment for all supporters to come and watch the team and do not tolerate any form of discriminatory behaviour.
We all want the team to do well and keep up their excellent run, so let’s do it together.
The Proud Lilywhites.