DCSIMG

Only gay team in the country

THEY may have to get used to jokes about playing for the other side.

But a group of footballers from the Capital are challenging the traditional stereotypes by forming Scotland's first all-gay team.

Hotscots FC regularly play in five-a-side tournaments in Edinburgh and are now planning to compete against other gay teams based in England.

Their closest away game would be against the Yorkshire Terriers, based in Leeds. They could also travel south to tackle GFC Bournemouth and the London Leftfooters.

Kevin Rowe set up Hotscots FC, which now has around 20 players, in February and he already has set his sights on the gay World Cup in 2008 in London.

The 34-year-old, of Leith Walk, played for the Yorkshire Terriers before moving to Edinburgh last year to work as a fundraiser for the Scottish SPCA.

A keen footballer since his school days, he said some gay players felt "uncomfortable" and had suffered discrimination in other teams.

He said: "It's for gay people who like football, but who feel a little intimidated playing in straight teams. The social side is very important.

"Football players can be very testosterone-fuelled. There will be people who feel a bit uncomfortable about being the only gay one on the team. Some of them feel they have to keep it secret. It's nice to have an environment where it's not a big deal.

"I've never had any problems, although there's obviously a lot of banter. I know players who have suffered abuse.

"We'd like to play friendly games with gay teams in England. There's a fair few down there."

The team wear navy blue strips with a red-orange logo featuring a lion, and are currently looking for sponsorship. They play at Gracemount Leisure Centre, but the 11-a-side team would move on to a full-size pitch at Meadowbank.

The team hopes to follow the success of the Caledonian Thebans, Edinburgh's gay rugby club who play competitively around Scotland, as well as taking on the UK's two other gay rugby teams.

John Paul Clarke, 28, a teacher from Meadowbank, was one of the first players to join. He also plays for the Caledonian Thebans.

He said: "I'd just moved to Edinburgh, and I felt uncomfortable about coming out to people. If people don't know you, it can be quite difficult for them to accept you. It's a great social atmosphere, and you don't feel pressurised about your sexuality."

Jane Carnall, information officer for the Edinburgh-based gay rights group, the Equality Network, said many gay sportsmen and women still faced discrimination. She welcomed the new team, saying they would help raise awareness and challenge stereotypes. She said: "I think there's still a kind of unspoken discrimination. There's a stereotype of what gay men should be like and football and rugby players don't fit that stereotype.

"There have been some terrible incidents in the past of football players being outed, and having their careers damaged.

"In some groups there can be social discrimination. Many people may not feel comfortable about talking about their social lives with team mates."

Hotscots FC will also be at the Pride Scotia Festival on June 23 in Pilrig Park.

Loud, proud and singing out

GAY and lesbian voices will be clearly heard at Loud & Proud's summer concert.

Scotland's only gay choir will be performing traditional and popular music, classics and show tunes at the free event on June 16.

The Edinburgh-based choir includes nearly 50 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender singers. The choir sings mainly a cappella, with solos and small ensembles as well as full choral numbers.

Callum Irving, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: "As well as being polished performers, Loud & Proud brings LGBT people together to entertain and inspire."

The concert will be at Augustine United Church, George IV Bridge at 7.30pm.

 
 
 

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