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Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Thursday, 17 March 2011
Yorkshire Terriers FC hope to avoid gay stereotypes
Yorkshire Terriers FC
Yorkshire Terriers FC hope to attract more players, gay or straight

Attitudes to homosexuality in sport have changed a lot in recent years.

The public coming-out of stars like rugby player Gareth Thomas or cyclist Graham Obree has helped others to feel they are not alone.

While UK football has not had a gay public figure since the tragic case of Justin Fashanu, many hope that the beautiful game has become more accepting.

One Leeds-based team hopes that they are part of a new era of tolerance.

Yorkshire Terriers play in the Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) League against sides from all around the UK. They are made up of gay and gay-friendly players and the age ranges from 18 to over 60.

Chairman Robert Graham explained: "We formed in 1997 off the back of the founding of the GFSN, earlier that decade. We were a group of friends who wanted to get together for a kickabout initially before becoming a bit more serious and forming a proper 11-a-side team.

Yorkshire Terriers FC
Yorkshire Terriers FC at Leeds Pride 2010

"I think some gay footballers feel intimidated by what can be a bit of a laddish atmosphere in a lot of Sunday league teams and I don't think that will change soon unless we get more professional players to come out.

"Sweden has just had a professional footballer come out (Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool defender, Glenn) and the response has been very positive but it may be a while before fan and player culture in this country are such that gay men feel like declaring their sexuality.

"The tabloid press, I'm sure, would be all over anyone brave enough to come out and my guess is that if a high-profile player comes out soon, it will more than likely be a retired player, with nothing much to lose.

"On a local level we've had no problems. As well as playing in the GFSN league we play 'straight' teams and they've all been very accepting and very friendly. If there's one thing football fans can bond together on, it's arguing about football with a pint in your hand.

"We're always open to new players, regardless of age, ability or sexual orientation. We have a constitution which everyone signs to make sure that we remain a tolerant club."

Yorkshire Terriers are hosting a five-a-side tournament on Sunday 20 March 2011 at the John Charles Centre for Sport, Middleton Grove, Middleton with 32 teams from all over the UK competing. All supporters welcome.



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