Fighting Homophobia in the Stands
Football fans take a stand against homophobia in German stadiums. The campaign is self-organized – and not well received everywhere.
BERLIN taz | It all started in the middle of the year. Fans of Tennis Borussia Berlin started to plan a campaign for an event from “Fans Against Racism in Europe”.
With logistical support by the Lesbian and Gay Association of Berlin-Brandenburg, a purple banner reading “Football Fans Against Homophobia” and the image of two kissing football players was sent on a journey through a few German states. The campaign ran itself.
For months now the banner has been traveling and in a new stadium almost every week. The whole thing stays very close to its roots and organizes itself as Christian Rudolph, spokesman for the lead initiative “Football fans against homophobia”, explains: “We only coordinate the principle. On location, the campaign is run by the respective fan groups.” The transportation of the traveling banner is organized by the groups themselves.
This action has been received overwhelmingly well by most fans. Still every now and then there are some bad reactions – especially on the Internet. When the banner was put up in the Hamburger SV’s stadium, rude remarks were made in the guest book of the fan project.
“Such reactions might not be nice, but they confirm our belief” says David Duddeck, member of the Anti-Discrimination AG in Hamburg, “because if everything was peace, joy and pancakes, anti-discriminatory commitment would bascially no longer be neccessary” . The majority of those who speak on the Internet take a stand against homopobia though.
Something else happened to the fans of VfL Halle 96 when they put the banner up in the stands this October during a home game against Lokomotive Leipzig. “The Lokomotive fans insulted us as “Bafögschwuchteln”, Bafög* fags, others sang the “Subway Song”** or wanted to fight,” recalls Thomas Korbmann, a fan of the VfL Halle.
“Since Lok won the game, it has remained relatively quiet. Any other result would have been very uncomfortable for us.” The majority of their own fans, however, supported the campaign.
It remains difficult to do something effective against homophobia among football fans even though in almost every stadium there are a number of fans who clearly oppose discriminatory behavior. For many supporters, insulting the rival fans and offending their players using the word “gay” still belongs to the world of football.
*Bafög is a certain amount of money that students in Germany can get if they don’t have enough to afford their studies themselves at the time.
**The Subway Song: »Ihr könnt nach Hause fahrn, Ihr könnt nach Hause fahrn. Eine U-Bahn, eine U-Bahn bauen wir, von St. Pauli bis nach Ausschwitz, eine U-Bahn bauen wir«
(‘You can go home, you can go home. A subway, a subway we’ll build, from St. Pauli to Auschwitz, a subway we’ll build.’)