National Coming Out Day … Football Museum … Groove


National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day is an annual LGBT+ awareness day observed on 11 October to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in “coming out of the closet”.

First celebrated in the United States in 1988, the initial idea was grounded in the feminist and gay liberation spirit of the personal being political, and the emphasis on the most basic form of activism being coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly LGBT+ person.

The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are LGBT+, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views. 

In the US Come Out! was the first periodical published by the Gay Liberation Front in November 1969.

The UK Gay Liberation Front existed between 1970 to 1973.

Its first meeting was held in the basement of the London School of Economics on 13 October 1970. Bob Mellors and Aubrey Walter had seen the effect of the GLF in the United States and created a parallel movement based on revolutionary politics. Come Together, the organisation’s newspaper, came out of its Media Workshop the same year. The GLF challenged gay people to come out and be visible, while also exploring the means by which they were oppressed by society. For the GLF, gay liberation was not about law reform, it was about a revolutionary change in society.

National Football Museum

Last Thursday Out in the City visited the National Football Museum. It is based in the Urbis building in Manchester city centre, and preserves, conserves and displays important collections of football memorabilia. The museum was originally based in Deepdale, Preston in Lancashire, but moved to Manchester in 2012.

The first item we saw on display was the mini donated by George Best, but we soon discovered that there was a guided tour. Our fantastic guide, Veronica, was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic that she brought the displays of trophies and t-shirts to life even to those with little or no interest in the “glorious game”.

The Football Association Minute Book, 1863

In 1863, Ebenezer Cobb Morley, the visionary first secretary of The Football Association, helped devise the original thirteen laws of association football. While these laws have been revised many times, they helped to define the game, as we know it today.

The book also records the birth of the FA Cup and the planning of the first ever international match. It is the most significant document in football history, without which the world would never had played its most popular sport.

The laws were drafted in a London pub, and the wobbly writing shows the obvious effects of the beer drunk when drafting the rules.

Also on display is the England shirt worn by Arnold Kirke Smith in the world’s first international match versus Scotland in 1872.

On 20 March 1966, the Jules Rimet trophy was stolen from a stamp exhibition in London. A ransom note was sent to the FA, along with a part of the trophy: “ Pay me £15,000 in £5 and £1 notes and you shall have your cup back … you will be satisfied and so will the rest of the world  … Do not inform press or police.”

On 27 March, Pickles the dog found the trophy in a garden near the home of his owner, David Corbett. The thief has never been caught, but Pickles became a national celebrity.

The museum also shows the “dark side” of football with racism and discrimination based on gender, religion and sexual orientation, as well as highlighting the positive roles of black people and women.

The Prince of Goalkeepers

Arthur Wharton was the first black professional player in English football. He was born in Ghana, the son of a missionary and an African princess.

Wharton broke records for sprinting and cycling but chose a career in football. He was a crowd pleaser and once pulled down the crossbar to stop a goal. He played for eight clubs in seventeen years.

Lily Parr

Lily Parr was one of English football’s greatest ever players and its first female superstar. She played for the most successful women’s team of her time: Dick, Kerr’s Ladies.

As men fought during the First World War, Lily and other women worked in munitions factories where they seized the chance to play football. Between 1917 and 1921, the team played over 100 games and attracted huge crowds at major stadiums. In 1920, over 53,000 watched them play St Helens Ladies at Everton’s Goodison Park.

Lily lodged in Preston with one of her teammates, Alice Norris. She also had a romantic relationship with her teammate Alice Woods. While playing for the Dick, Kerr’s Ladies she was noted for her large appetite and almost constant smoking of Woodbine cigarettes.

The success of Lily and her teammates was not welcomed by everyone. In 1921, the FA banned its clubs from hosting women’s games. Despite this opposition, Lily and her teammates defiantly played on and encouraged others to do so. During her impressive 30-year career she played across the world, and scored around 1,000 goals.

It was an interesting experience, which I recommend to everyone visiting Manchester.

More photos can be seen here.

“Groove” at The Contact Theatre

“Groove” is a lively theatrical performance about the dance floor – a place where LGBT+ people can feel liberatory potential. For us, it can be our community centre, our church, our school and our family.

The theatre company Outbox brought the democracy of the dance floor to Studio One at the Contact. We felt the groove as the night

club atmosphere encouraged audience members to get up and dance and the performers moved into the audience on a number of occasions.

The pulse of the music brought back memories of stepping through those doors where magic happens. There were memories of everyone sweating from the music, communally recognising the songs, which inspired us and made us move our bodies and our minds. The dance floor was our safe haven from the outside world, where we could be ourselves at least for a few hours.

It was an enjoyable and emotional piece of theatre. We also enjoyed the after-party. Thanks to Lawrie from Pride-in-Ageing who organised our attendance at the event.

The “Groove” by Nazamba

One thought on “National Coming Out Day … Football Museum … Groove

  1. Hi Tony
    Happy Coming Out day. It was good to hear about this, which is news to me although I came out in the early 1980s, much influenced by Californian thinkers.
    I am not a football fan but it was good to hear about the museum. It is an asset to the city and it sounds like you had an interesting visit. Maybe I’ll go if I have a visitor who is interested.
    I went to Groove too. I was a little disappointed. The music didn’t bring it back for me. I guess I’m getting a little long in the tooth these days.
    Pride-in-ageing sounds interesting. A friend of mine is involved but we haven’t discussed what he’s been up to. I don’t think I have an issue in feeling pride in myself. In fact, I feel like a veteran in the struggle for equal rights.
    Keep well.


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