To mark LGBTQ+ History Month, which also coincides with the 10th anniversary of our GayGooners Supporters’ Club, we sat down with superfan Selena Snoding to hear all about her experiences supporting Arsenal.
“It’s a cliché, but Arsenal has always been more than a football team to me,” Selena tells us.
“Even as a kid, I knew there was something special about this club. Arsenal, and our players, are especially good at including and interacting with fans and demonstrating how important we are to them.”
Selena started supporting Arsenal when she was six, sparked by a fellow Gooner bringing her programmes from our matches. In the last few years, she’s strengthened her bond with the club through our partnership with GayGooners.
“More recently I’ve had opportunities to represent the club at London Pride and as a flag bearer at the Emirates," she added. "I now feel a deeper connection to the club and the impact it has on so many communities.
“GayGooners has had a profound impact on LGBTQ+ people in football. We were the first official LGBTQ+ supporters’ group in the country, paving the way for the many others that have formed since. I have met some amazing people that have become friends and been encouraged to get out of my comfort zone to help inspire the next generation of LGBTQ+ Gooners. They have given me some wonderful memories and I’m incredibly proud to be a GayGooner.”
Selena went on to tell us why it’s so important for us to continue to mark LGBTQ+ History Month and how groups like GayGooners can continue to promote visibility in football.
“It’s important to celebrate the progress that has been made and the people that made that progress possible. 56 years ago, homosexuality was decriminalised for over-21s. 20 years ago Section 28 [the law that banned ‘promotion of homosexuality’] was repealed. These changes, which have enabled so many of us to live openly as LGBTQ+ people, would not have been possible without years of hard work by those who came before us.
“Groups like GayGooners, and the way some clubs have been proactive in seeking advice and feedback from these groups, have helped a lot. It’s something I feel Arsenal do particularly well and it sends a clear message that we are welcome and any abuse aimed at us will not be tolerated. I hope that our banner and pro-LGBTQ+ content from Arsenal helps new fans and players feel safe at our club."
So what more can football do to become more welcoming?
“It’s a tough question,” Selena ponders. “The dearth of openly gay and bisexual men in football demonstrates how difficult it is for them to ‘come out’ in the current environment. This issue isn’t really seen in the women’s game, which has a significant number of high-profile players in same-sex relationships.
"Encouraging people to report abuse and additional training for stewards to recognise abuse for what it is may go some way to improving things. Some abuse may sound like banter but can be extremely harmful, to both direct and indirect targets. We are all people with the same goal of enjoying a football match and supporting our team, no-one should ever feel like it’s not safe to do so.”
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