LUL News Special
On 24th August, this year, Charlton Athletic became the first professional football club in the world to have an LGBT-friendly club as one of its official teams.
In this exclusive interview, Charlton Invicta FC’s Chairman, Paul Driscoll, talks to the club’s founder (and reporter for LUL News), Brian Silk, about how things are going with the new link-up.
Paul: “From my perspective, Charlton are committed to us as a club, which is fantastic. It ensures the longevity of the club above and beyond anything you or I could have hoped for. And they are now committed to us as a club, absolutely, which is fantastic.
“We’ve seen some fantastic press since the launch, with coverage on every single television channel, The Sun, The Mail, The Guardian (who are here today), Radio 4, Radio 2. Gary or myself, or one of the players, was on every single channel on the day of the launch, which was incredible.
“As a result of the media coverage, we’ve seen more people ‘liking’ us on Twitter, more people asking to come and play, and we’ve seen more people coming to train. All of which is the right kind of vibe.
“It’s interesting, from my perspective – not being a long-term football aficionado – that the attitude of everyone at Charlton and everyone I’ve come into contact with, that they’re very interested in the principle of an LGBT team. That’s the thing. So, having spoken to Jason Morgan, who’s the head of the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, they are absolutely full-force behind what you started and everyone is carrying on.”
Brian: “It’s LGBT-friendly football. That’s not necessarily well-understood. I could tell you about when I went to talk to a football organisation and they don’t quite ‘get it.’ They think they get it, but they need a bit more insight. And they need to link up properly with clubs and the players in order to fully understand where they want to go.”
Paul: “Exactly. We’re spending more time at Charlton. Every single thing that we’ve suggested to them, and all the aspects of moving this on, have been great.
“There’s the trolls – we’ve definitely got an increase in them. There have been a lot of negative comments since the launch, but you take it on the chin. There’s been a lot more positive than there has been negative.
“And the fact that it was the very first fully-fledged league team to openly admit that there is a necessity, a requirement, for an LGBT-friendly team is brilliant. It’s very odd, when you take a step back – standing here watching the game – and you think ‘I know who’s gay and who’s straight,’ but no one else watching from the side-line, who isn’t involved in the team, will know. And that normalisation of our team is what we are putting forward to every single person at Charlton and what they are now starting to understand.
“It’s not who’s gay and who’s straight. It’s the same as it was 20 years ago – it’s not who’s black and who’s white – it’s if they are a good football player and they want to play football. We’ve got guys who come to training who are never going to play in the team, but that’s not why they’re coming. They’re coming because they want to play football.
“There are guys who are gay and guys who aren’t and that is what the club was about, from the very beginning, for you. It’s what the club stands for and will continue to stand for, whether it’s got Charlton on the shirt or whether it’s got Blackpool on the shirt, it doesn’t matter – that’s what the team was set up to be and that’s what will continue.
“It’s bringing that across. It’s football and it’s doesn’t matter about people’s sexuality.”