We have been asked quite often about our thoughts on the chant, including questions about why we should stop singing it, and why is it considered homophobic. We understand that for a lot of fans, it isn’t sung intentionally to cause offence to the LGBTQ+ community, nor are a lot of people aware of the connotations the chant has.
This is why we, and other supporter’s clubs and LGBTQ+ charities across the country have outlined the information for why it causes offence, and therefore, why the chant should cease to be heard in the stands.
What is the Chant?
‘Chelsea rent boy’ is a disparaging phrase aimed towards Chelsea FC’s staff, players and supporters by opposition fans. As mentioned earlier, many people don’t realise but the term has homophobic connotations that are closely connected with Chelsea’s LGBT history.
As we are all aware, a ‘rent boy’ is phrase used to describe a young male prostitute – specifically, a male prostitute who sells sex to other men.
The term has been aimed towards Chelsea players and fans rather than other football teams because of the London borough of Chelsea’s past status as an LGBTQ+ hotspot.
During the late 60s and ’70s, the area of Chelsea in the West End of London, was a hub for LGBTQ+ people, it had several pubs and bars where queer people could freely be themselves in a homophobic cultural climate.
The borough’s LGBTQ+ scene meant it developed a reputation for being a location where ‘rent boys’ would look to meet men for sex – specifically around Earl’s Court, just minutes away from Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge football stadium.
Thus, the chant ‘Chelsea rent boy’ is effectively a homophobic insult that implies male Chelsea players and fans sell sex to other men.
Some of the motivation behind the chant has evolved in recent years, meaning that some people using the term in 2023 do not even realise its historically homophobic connotations.
After Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea FC in 2003 and injected billions into the club, many opposition fans began to use the chant to mock Chelsea players for being ‘bought’. But regardless of the motivation, the homophobic undertone of using ‘rent boy’ as an insult to imply someone has paid sex with another man remains.
Is it a Hate Crime?
Yes, officially now it can be considered such. The Crown Prosecution Service have confirmed that it considers the term ‘rent boy’ to be a homophobic slur, meaning that those using it could be liable for prosecution under hate crime laws.
Not only this, earlier this year, the FA included it into a list of punishable chants, meaning any club’s fans found to be singing the chant could see their club, and themselves, have disciplinary action taken against them.
We want to use education to hopefully avoid any of our fans being punished and to do our best to eradicate this outdated chant.
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