In the United States, at least, to be an openly gay (sadly, over here, being queer still needs to be prefaced by “openly,” but a separate issue for another time) sports fan is viewed somewhat askance. We’re just looking at the players is a common refrain, as if one can’t be queer and a student of fine football at the same time. Well bollocks to that.
Thankfully Arsenal are one of the most welcoming football clubs on earth to its LGBTQ — (that’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning or queer depending on whom you ask, for those living in the southeastern US or, say, Liverpool, where thought goes to die). Anyway, not only does the official Arsenal.com host a “Gay Gooners” page, the club organised this and was the first club in the Premiership to fully and openly welcome its LGBTQ supporters. Arsenal have also, as per the site, fully and actively supported anti-homophobia efforts in football globally, including here in the United States while also making London a top candidate for the 2018 Gay Games.
While Paris was ultimately awarded the latter London’s place as a welcoming city to queer individuals, athletes and fans of sport was firmly cemented, thanks certainly to the Gunners’ support of the community. It’s wonderful knowing that Arsenal as an institution supports me for whom I am, just as I support them (even when it means waking up at 5:30). I’ve also found the Arsenal Twitter community to extraordinarily welcoming of its LGBTQ family; I’m an ardent activist on LGBTQ issues, and have been harassed and have had slurs directed at me on Twitter and on other social media sites, but not once by a Gunner (to my knowledge).
In general, being a football fan in the United States is greeted with an all-too stereotypical flip of the hand or an ironic hipster wink. “Oh you’re one of those?” Frankly, it can be quite annoying. And being a gay soccer fan in the USA just puts you on the level of Broadway fans (hi, one of those too) for some. Just because we’re queer and American doesn’t mean we don’t have an opinion on Szczesny’s vertical range (excellent, imo). Supporting a club that recognizes and supports this community is a tremendous support and makes glad (for innumerable reasons) to be a (gay) Gooner.
Arsenal’s commitment to embracing the full range of its diverse community of supporters is one reason among many why this Midwestern American kid is a proud Gooner.