In the second piece of our Proud To Be series, we caught up with Unity team player, Chris Knight, as he shares his experiences and dispels some of the myths on what it's like to be Bi and to play football.
Please could you share your name, how you identify and your preferred pronouns?
Chris - "Chris Knight, Bisexual, He/Him"
So, why Stonewall FC? How did you get involved and how long have you been playing at
Chris - "I joined Stonewall FC as I was looking to get back into 11-a-side football after a few years away, and I reached out to the club as I felt they would provide a welcoming and inclusive space. I got involved after sending them an email and I’ve been playing for nearly a year but with a lockdown in the middle, I still feel very new. I’m really enjoying it so far though!"
“ Being Bisexual isn’t my entire identity and it doesn’t define me but it is part of me - a part I'm incredibly proud of."
What does being bi mean to you?
Chris - "It's about pride, strength and confidence. It took me a long time to fully realise how big a part of my identity my sexuality was; I went through years of convincing myself that it wasn’t even real. In the last few years I have been on a journey towards being more expressive and more true myself. It has impacted me hugely and it’s something I try to take a lot of strength from. Being Bisexual isn’t my entire identity and it doesn’t define me but it is part of me and a part I’m incredibly proud of.
"Being Bi is real and whatever the gender identity of the person someone who is bisexual is going out with, they are still Bi..."
What would you say to people who think Bi/LGBT+ people aren’t really into football?
Chris - "I’d ask them why they think that? There’s nothing intrinsically ‘straight’ about male football and it’s important people realise that there’s a chance that the person next to them on the terrace or even the player on the pitch, might be LGBT+. It’s also crucial that people ensure that they aren’t acting in a way that would make LGBT+ feel excluded from football."
Are there any common misconceptions you’d want to dispel about being bi?
Chris - "I think the main misconception is that Bisexual people are almost ‘waiting’ to find someone who they love before they become ‘straight’ or ‘gay’. Being Bi is real and whatever the gender identity of the person someone who is bisexual is going out with, they are still Bi. That doesn’t change. It's also such a cliché and really should be finished by now but I’m not greedy!! It’s never been a funny joke and it’s not funny now."
What makes someone a good ally to the bi community?
Chris - "Active support. It’s not enough to just be okay with the existence of Bisexual people. Are you calling out homophobia when you hear it? Are you going to donating to LGBT+ organisations if you have the means? Are you ensuring that you are creating an inclusive environment in your social and work spaces? Also, do your own research; yes talk to people who have lived experience, but it’s not the job of Bisexual people to educate you on our history it’s all out there for you to educate yourself."
Why is bi visibility important in football?
Chris - "Unless a light is shone on bi-sexuality and awareness raised, it’s easy for it stay as a hidden identity. There will be football fans up and down the country and players as well who don’t feel comfortable to be there true selves and that is something that should concern everyone, no matter how you identify."
Has being bi ever impacted your ability/desire to play football? If so, how?
Chris - "The few times I’ve been at a football game and heard homophobic comments it has really affected me, it’s made me feel unwelcome and at it’s worse threatened. Being LGBT+ is something, unlike race, that can sometimes be ‘hidden’ but I hated being at football and
feeling like I couldn’t be myself. I hid my sexuality from people I went to watch football with
and people I played football with until quite recently and in certain cases, the anxiety of
‘coming out’ has been very stressful. I will say that the support I’ve received from my friends
has been amazing though and I feel very lucky."
Has playing football at Stonewall FC supported you in any way?
Chris - "Even in the short time I’ve been playing at Stonewall I’ve found a lot of comfort in the
openness and acceptance of everyone there. I’ve not felt anxious to be myself when at
Stonewall matches or training sessions and the environment is hugely supportive and
Do spaces like Stonewall FC really matter?
Chris - "Yes! They're hugely important in making football a more welcoming and
accepting environment. In an ideal world, maybe you wouldn’t need explicitly inclusive clubs, but the men’s footballing landscape in Britain is currently not an inclusive one, so it’s vital that spaces like Stonewall lead the way and exist for everyone."
Best footballing memory (on or off the pitch)?
Chris - "My best footballing memory is watching Leyton Orient get to the play-off final at our home ground against Peterborough. It was an incredible play-off semi-final and it was tense right until the end. The relief at the end of the game and the celebrations after where incredible, granted, we won’t talk about what happened in the final though…"
What advice would you give to someone questioning whether they identify as bi?
Chris - "Try and find people you trust and talk to them. That can be family, friends or even help-lines/chat forums. Find a space where you feel like you can talk to people and really be yourself. Bi-erasure is still a huge problem in our society and it’s perfectly natural to question your sexuality, I know I did, but trust in yourself and your feelings and lean on the people you can trust.
Are there any resources or people that you’d recommend people following or
checking out on IG?
Thanks to Chris for sharing your experiences. Should you or anyone you know like to get involved with our club offerings, complete the form on our website here: www.stonewallfc.com/join-us and don't forget to follow us on socials - Instagram / Twitter.