As the Arsenal family comes together to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month, Vivianne Miedema shares a few words and thoughts of her own.
From her admiration of the GayGooners and the welcoming environment of women’s football, to the importance of allyship and providing support for others.
Enjoy this short read from the inspirational Vivianne Miedema, in her own words:
Speaking from my own experience growing up, it wasn’t really a thing for players in the top-flight to openly come out. Not when you compare it to women’s football now.
I remember being 14 years old and signing for Heerenveen. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was incredibly young and naïve from a small town with no idea of what was really going on in the world.
After a few days of being around my teammates, I eventually realised that other players at the club were dating. I just didn’t expect that to be a thing, and I was very overwhelmed. I ended up speaking to one of my closest friends about it who had been involved in the game longer than me, and I asked her ‘Is this normal in women’s football?’ and she was like ‘Yeah, it’s a normal thing, it’s accepted, and you don’t need to worry about it, Viv.’ I just remember this amazing feeling of knowing I’m somewhere where everyone is accepted and you’re free to be who you really are.
Being involved in women’s football for so long, I’ve always been able to recognise that I’m lucky enough to work in an environment where everyone and everything is accepted and open, so although it’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month, nothing really changes for me, but I know I have friends who have been really looking forward to it because they feel like that’s the only month or only time that they can truly be themselves.
In a lot of countries, cultures, and homes, this is a time to celebrate, but there’s a lot of people who are part of the community who don’t feel that way. It’s hard to give people in that situation advice, especially from the privileged position I’m in, having such a supportive environment around me. However, I’d always say that you should try and stay true to yourself. Don't change yourself. I know it might be really difficult and complicated, but please try and stay as true to yourself as possible and hopefully things will change over time. Everyone deserves to be themselves.
You still see a lot of really sad stories about people questioning why we have LGBTQ+ Pride Month and why we’re celebrating it, which is a real shame because at this point there really shouldn’t be a stigma around it anymore.
Being part of Arsenal Women, there’s such a strong connection to the LGBTQ+ community, and in women’s football generally. Earlier this season, I was reading the matchday programme at the Emirates and there was a feature about the GayGooners being the first and largest LGBTQ+ football supporters' group in England. I found it a really interesting read, because we all know that Arsenal does a lot of work in the community, but things like this are just such a good reminder that Arsenal’s influence runs so much deeper than just football.
I think it’s amazing, you’ve got so many supporters all around the world who adore Arsenal, so with Arsenal as a full supporter of the LGBTQ+ Pride Month and the GayGooners, then I think it has and will continue to change the minds of a lot of people. Clubs need to set an example and it makes me proud to know that Arsenal and the GayGooners have been doing that from an early stage.
I think we need to start moving towards a society where people are accepted for who they are without hate. Is that really so much to ask for? Within women’s football, because we’ve all gone through it and we all understand it, that togetherness and understanding is something that brings teams and women’s athletes together. There’s never been an issue about it.
I get so many messages from people on social media saying that I’m their strength and superhero for giving them the confidence to come out to their family and to accept who they really are, which is unbelievable. It’s amazing to know that I’m able to help people have the confidence to be who they want to be. I also think that this isn’t just happening in football right now. Within a lot of other women’s sports, there are a lot of people who are standing up for other people and what is right, which is really nice to see.
People are changing and times are changing, and I really hope that in 10 years' time or something like that it won’t be an issue, or at least a lot less of an issue. It’s just a question of time because I also see so much out there that gives me hope for the future.
For me personally, I’ve never been a fan of putting labels on things. I’ve never liked putting myself in a box or even using the phrase ‘coming out’, because for me, it was just something as simple as ‘Hey, this is my partner, and she just so happens to be a girl!’. That’s it, it was never anything more to me.
All I’ve ever wanted to say is that this is my partner and I’m happy with them, because at the end of the day that’s all that matters…being happy. That’s what everyone deserves. To feel like you belong, to feel seen, and to be with whoever you want to be with, regardless of gender.
Stay true to yourself. Viv.
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