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Hot Time in Old Town: a Gay 4 Soccer ally

Section 8's tifo display in the April home game against the Houston Dynamo
Section 8's tifo display in the April home game against the Houston Dynamo

Hot Time in Old Town is proud to officially - and unanimously - declare itself an ally of Gay 4 Soccer. We believe that soccer should be enjoyed by everyone regardless of sexual orientation. As an ally, we are dedicated to creating a safe space where anyone can appreciate the sport, whether they are on the field, behind the scenes, or in the stands cheering for the team they love.

It's easy enough to say that homophobia and transphobia in sports is a legitimate problem, but what exactly is homophobia? Let's break it down.

Homophobia is a negative attitude toward someone based on their sexual preference or (often forgotten) their perceived sexual preference. This negative attitude can be expressed explicitly through homophobic language and slurs, but it can also be expressed more subtly. It includes phrases such as "that's so gay", where the intent is casual, but the language is still bigoted.

What makes it such a problem? Awareness. Publicity. Knowledge and education. Homophobia and transphobia in sports just isn't talked about enough. The fact is, few people want to or feel like they "can" discuss such a sensitive issue, so it constantly lies untouched. Reportedly, not one Premier League player agreed to be a part of an anti-homophobia ad campaign endorsed by the FA - not because all of the players are homophobic, of course, but because even if they had wanted to, their agent would most likely advise them against it. The environment isn't right. Only a few players in major leagues have come out, but what's important to keep in mind is that it isn't on them. They shouldn't have to come out in order to be an inspiring example. It's on us. It's on the teammates, the staff, and the fans to provide a safe and supportive environment.

In MLS, DC United and Chivas USA have shown a large amount of support for the LGBT community. However, Section 8's tifo display in the home game against Houston Dynamo was the first display of LGBT support from a MLS fanbase. It's fantastic - yet saddening at the same time because a) it was the first and b) it's a Big Deal. This type of support isn't common in American sporting society. Hopefully, Section 8, the Chicago Fire and all of us can continue to be torchbearers in support of equality, diversity, and respect.

In the end, how does who you love, your ethnicity, your gender, or any myriad of factors have any bearing on how well you can kick a ball or how loudly you can cheer for your team? It shouldn't. The goal should be a safe space for everyone to enjoy the beautiful game.

For more information, check out You Can Play (support for LGBT athletes), Red Card Homophobia (news and information, geared more towards soccer), and the Justin Campaign (combating homophobia in soccer at a grassroots level).