Celebrating 10 Years of Pride with GayGooners

This June marks the 10th year of GayGooners proudly supporting Pride month.

To celebrate, we invited members of GayGooners to share their experiences of Pride month, telling us what it means to have been the first football club represented at a Pride march.

Carl Fearn, Co-Chair of GayGooners

My first ever time at a Pride Parade was in 2019 with the GayGooners.

It was a truly memorable day of amazing sights, bright colours and an overwhelming feeling of acceptance.

Being able to think, say and feel, 'this is me', so openly and safely was truly liberating.

I cannot begin to thank the GayGooners and Arsenal enough for the real difference they have made in my life.

The picture below is one of my absolute favourites, I was driving the float and missed out on nearly all the pictures being taken, so when I had a few seconds, I took the chance to photobomb a picture!

It sums up my feelings on the day perfectly... Ta-Da!

Dave Raval, founding member of GayGooners and former Chair

When a handful of us founded the GayGooners in 2013, Arsenal was the first Premier League club to have an official LGBT supporters group.

Now, all Premier League clubs do, as do many clubs in other leagues, but ours is the largest (in the world!) with over 1,100 members.

When we started, homophobic and transphobic abuse was still commonplace at grounds and on social media, and sometimes we could feel like we were alone.

There is still abuse of course, but now 'straight allies' often call out the haters before we do – because together we are one Arsenal family and football is for everyone.

When we marched to celebrate being LGBT football fans at Pride, we were the first club represented.

Now, many clubs have their fans at Pride, which makes more and more people feel accepted as fans in the sport.

Victoria Sharkey, Campaigns Officer of GayGooners

In 2022 I will be attending my first ever Pride in London, and I am so proud to be a part of the GayGooners contingent for this important event.

Many think that there is already LGBTQI+ equality in this country and that Pride is just a chance to have some fun with our friends.

While I am looking forward to a really fun day I think it’s important not to lose sight of the underlying meaning behind this and other Pride parades and celebrations that happen. 

Within football fandom it is often still taboo to be out and in a same-sex relationship, and in recent months members of GayGooners have been abused and assaulted for a simple thing as wearing rainbow laces to a game, or holding their partner’s hand.

For Trans and non-binary football fans it can still be incredibly risky to go to games as their authentic selves, and I doubt that a single one of our Trans or non-binary members hasn’t faced abuse at a game at some point. 

Several members won’t come to games because of this.

It’s up to all clubs to follow Arsenal’s fantastic lead and create a safe space for people who just want to come and watch a match in peace.

It’s up to fan groups like ours to show the world that it’s ok to be Gay, Trans, Non-Binary, Pansexual, Queer, anywhere on the LGBTQI+ spectrum and love the game. 

Bigots aren’t going to stop us supporting our club, and hopefully seeing our presence will bring some LGBTQI+ fans back into football grounds, with the support of clubs and straight allies.

I hope this might even encourage more players to come out as Jake Daniels has at Blackpool.

Joe White, Co-Chair of GayGooners

Pride, as a month, is a concept about celebration and collectiveness - of where we have come from, where we are and where we want to be.

The support of the Arsenal family - from the club, fellow fans and the friends who make up the GayGooners - at Pride can never be understated. It always makes me proud to be a Gooner.

But what this club and family does so well is understanding that Pride may be a month, but our existence is every second of the day.

The challenges we face in society and in football do not end with the passing of June, and nor should our action.

We are making Arsenal for Everyone, every day - through allyship, through visibility and through thousands of GayGooners being their authentic selves whether Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Ace or Queer.

The fact that this club is proud of our Pride feels me with overwhelming joy and optimism in a relentlessly tough time for LGBT+ people, and especially Trans and gender diverse people like myself.

When we started, no professional male player had come out whilst playing in England this century. Now, one has, and hopefully Jake Daniels in Blackpool is the first of many.

There is still a long road ahead, remember how long it’s taken to reduce racist and sexist abuse – you can’t stop, and if you stand-still, you end up going backwards.

In fewer than ten years, huge strides have been made and I’d like to give thanks to all the fans and campaigners who have made this happen, and to the club and its staff for their support throughout this time.

The Arsenal family has led the way, and the football world is a better place for it.

Angus Moorat, committee member and member of Arsenal’s Advisory Board

GayGooners is first and foremost a social club for Arsenal’s LGBT+ fans.

Many in the UK and worldwide join us every year as a result of Pride, forming proper friendships at games home, away, in Europe and online. 

I was a bit anxious when I went on my first Pride parade in 2014 but wanted to support Stewart (Selby) who created it all back in 2013.

The group has changed my life and I now have many brilliant Arsenal pals, straight and LGBT.

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