An Open Letter To All Redmen Subscribers,
Hey everyone, so yeah, it’s been a stressful few days here at Redmen HQ, and I just wanted to bring everyone up to speed with what’s gone on, and what our response has been.
So, on Monday evening I was contacted by Paul Amann from Liverpool’s LGBT fan group Kop Outs (you may also know him as the man who did the wonderful interview recently with Jurgen).
Paul forwarded me a video clip that showed the outdated homophobic slur “rent boys” being used on one of our videos from the Chelsea match. Upon reviewing the footage, we took the immediate action of removing the original source video from YouTube and sought further explanation and context from our studio production team as to how this shocking incident happened.
The contributor in question, Errol, has acknowledged and apologised wholeheartedly for his error. To be honest, he’s devastated. It doesn’t make it right, but knowing Errol as I do, I genuinely believe him to be a good man who made a mistake and that this was not something premeditated, and certainly not something that came from either a place of hatred or malice. He has been desperate to do anything possible to put the situation right, more on which later.
For the sake of clarity though let me state that myself, Chris and the entire Redmen Family believe in inclusivity. No one should be made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable at either the football, watching our content, or in society as a whole because of their race, religion, sex or sexuality. We cannot control what people do in the wider world or in football grounds, but what we can do is control our content. Though mistakes happen, and even seasoned pros can make mistakes in live studio environments, it does not excuse what happened.
All we can do now is try to be better.
As mentioned, we have pulled down the original video, but clearly once something is on the Internet it can be a nearly impossible task to wipe it away completely.
Just so you know, our thinking behind this is two fold…
We do not in any way condone homophobia, or the use of homophobic language, and do not wish the continued existence of the video on platforms outside of our control to be seen as an endorsement of such.
We do not wish the clip to become “banter fodder”, both because we do not want to be associated with such attitudes, but also because Errol is a wonderful, caring young man who deserves to be able to learn from his mistake and not have it hang over him for the rest of his life.
The thought of even one person feeling less about themselves because of what occurred makes me sick to my stomach, whether it was someone who saw it at the time, or years from now. To that end I will, we will, do everything in our power to see that clip removed from the world. It serves no positive purpose for continuing to exist.
Now, I am aware that the term and the chant have been a massive topic of debate, especially over the past few weeks. There are clearly people who do not feel that it is being used with homophobic intent, which I truly believe to the case for the vast, vast majority. However, the term “rent boys” is officially classified as “hate speech” by the Crown Prosecution Service, it’s use can be used to prosecute.
Whether we feel the intent is there or not, it is classified as such by law. It should not be treated casually, it should be treated in the same way as we treat racist terms. With abhorrence.
As far as Redmen TV goes, I want to assure you all that this doesn’t end here. Penitence is only a first step, the next is education. For too long we have shied away from having some of the heavier conversations around football, but it is our hope that we can do something to turn this negative situation into a positive chance for an open discussion about discrimination in and around the game and the team we all love. We have built a fantastic platform, and though I’m proud of the good work we’ve been able to do in the local community, and have always tried to be allies to those who need it, we need to do more.
As a first step, Paul Amann was good enough to come into the studio to talk to us, (even though it was probably a bit of a step down from chatting with Jurgen). What came of it was a brilliant, open, honest conversation between Paul, Chris and Errol about experiences of homophobia and racism at the match; the origins of the “rent boy” chant, and Chris’ own struggles in shaking off it’s legacy. It’s heavier than our usual content, but it’s honest and there are no punches pulled. The full video is below.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this, and I would highly recommend checking out the chat. It’s been a challenging few days, and I hope this gives everyone a good perspective on the human side of things behind it all.
Hopefully we can all move forward from here and get back to the brilliant business of supporting the Reds as we should, together.
The Redmen TV