ONE GIANT LEAP TO EQUALITY IN FOOTBALL
Six years after leaping over a Pride barrier to march with the UK’s first LGBT+ football fan group, an Arsenal season-ticket holder is organising the club’s biggest-ever Pride appearance.
Jonathan Green, a long-time supporter in Arsenal’s legendary North Bank who lives in Highbury, is now secretary of Arsenal Gay Gooners Supporters Club, the world’s biggest, with nearly 800 members.
He has arranged for the club mascot, Gunnersaurus, to appear at this year’s Pride, and with Arsenal, for special “Pride 19” rainbow versions of the club’s new Adidas kit.
Jonathan said, “In July 2013 I was standing behind crowd barriers in Oxford Street watching the Pride march go by. I saw a flash of red approaching: a group of people marching in Arsenal colours. Quick as a flash I leapt over the barriers and joined them. I instinctively knew these were my people.”
Arsenal Gay Gooners has its first float in this year’s parade – the seventh time its LGBT fans have proudly represented Arsenal in the Pride in London event.
The Supporters’ Club is teaming up with Arsenal’s green energy provider and club sponsor Octopus Energy, marching together and organising events to celebrate inclusion, diversity and LGBT+ visibility in football.
Jonathan added, “There is a serious side to Pride. Over the last year, the Metropolitan Police have recorded 2,600 homophobic attacks, a rise of 15%. Pride has an important role to show we will not be intimidated off the streets as LGBT+ football fans or as LGBT+ Londoners.”
Twenty members of Arsenal Gay Gooners went to Arsenal’s Armoury store on kit launch day on Monday, to be presented with one of a rainbow-version of the new Adidas shirts. One member of Arsenal staff described how the group was inspirational for him, “Never underestimate your power and how you use our club and what effect that has on us (staff) and others.”
To join Arsenal Gay Gooners, follow its links on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. (@gaygooners)