16 February 2021

February is LGBTQ+ history month and this year’s theme is ‘Body, Mind and Spirit’ – a holistic theme depicted in adjacent light bulb logo. Part of the aims of the month is to bring to light ‘hidden histories’ of people from the LGBTQ+ community.  

Faces for the year 2021 include Lily Parr. Born in 1905 in St Helen’s, Lancashire, she learned to play both football and rugby from her older brothers.  Aged 14, in 1919 she was signed for St Helen’s Ladies football team, and then quickly transferred to Dick Kerr’s Ladies, a factory team in Pre
ston where a place on the squad also got you a job in the factory! 

Women’s football became popular in World War I when with so many young men fighting on the front, women’s games boosted moral and raised money for charities for those injured in the war.  In her first season with Dick Kerr’s Ladies, Lily, playing winger scored 43 goals. She also played internationally, with tours of France and the US, where the press hailed her as ‘the most brilliant female player in the world’.

Lily played football for 32 years, though eventually she left the factory and trained as a nurse. Working at Whittingham Hospital and Lunatic Asylum she met her partner Mary and they bought a house together in Preston refusing to hide their relationship at a time in society when it was socially unacceptable to be lesbian. Thus Lily is celebrated both as a footballing and a LGBTQ+ icon.

The FA banned women from playing on affiliated pitches until 1969, but it seems it is only in the last decade that the Women’s game has really begun to receive much media attention. Lily died in 1978 but only in 2002 became the first woman to feature in the National Football Museum’s Hall of fame, whilst in 2019 a life-size statue of her was erected outside the museum. 
All information above is sourced from this website LGBT+ History Month (lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk) which features other ‘Faces’ for the month.