McCabe - I saw the flag and knew I belonged

Katie McCabe and members of Gay Gooners joined club staff to celebrate LGBT+ History Month and complete a workshop on gender identity, sexuality and allyship.

During the session, which was delivered by Stonewall and Premier League accredited staff trainers, McCabe recalled the lasting impression that seeing the Gay Gooners flag had on her during her first ever visit to Emirates Stadium.

“It was way before I signed, I was coming over as a fan from Dublin,” started the Republic of Ireland international.

“I remember seeing the Gay Gooners flag hanging inside the stadium and it was massive for me. Immediately I felt a part of it and I felt a part of the club. I remember thinking ‘OK, if I’m gay here, that’s absolutely fine’.

“It was a great factor knowing that when the day did come that Arsenal wanted to sign me, I knew I was going to be accepted. That was warming for me and it is credit to all the work Gay Gooners have done, and that the club have done in supporting them.

“Visibility is so key and as a professional footballer it’s important I use my platforms to be that visible player who is out. To be comfortable and to be happy with myself. To use my platforms to help create change towards a more inclusive society.

“Having a group like Gay Gooners is massive, it’s about a sense of belonging and having a safe space in a football environment where you can be yourself. That’s what Gay Gooners are doing – not just for me but for fans around the world, and I think it’s fantastic.”

As the UK’s first and world’s largest LGBT+ football fan group, Gay Gooners have played an integral role in combating prejudice and raising awareness of LGBT+ issues in the football community.

McCabe is just one example of the many supporters and players that have felt welcome due to Gay Gooners’ continued presence inside Emirates Stadium and at away matches.

“The idea that just our visibility and the fact we exist can make supporters or players feel welcome just makes everything worthwhile to me,” explained George Rice, co-chair of Gay Gooners.

“I think the banner inside the stadium and any kind of visibility, whether it’s on social media or otherwise, is just so important in reminding fans or players who may not be out that, if they were to come out, their club is behind them 100 per cent.”

As well as celebrating LGBT+ History Month, the workshop formed part of our ongoing Arsenal for Everyone initiative, which aims to ensure that everyone can feel an equal sense of pride and belonging to the Arsenal family. It is also reflective of the ongoing education work delivered by Arsenal in the Community. 

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