Only recently we saw Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign backed by the Premier League and EFL (English Football League) showing their support in helping kick homophobia out of the game but I wanted to look at what support the clubs have out there for the LGBT fans of the club making them feel safe at games.
Launched in October 2016, just over a year later I spoke to founding member Ryan Mather’s on the launch of the Proud Terriers and the work it’s been doing with in the LGBT community supporting the fans of the club.
Hi Ryan, who are the Proud Terriers?
‘Proud Terriers are an LGBT fan group of Huddersfield Town supporters that are trying to change attitudes within the game of football and make our beautiful game become more inclusive.’
And what made you start the Proud Terriers?
'I started Proud Terriers because I wanted to make a difference to fight homophobia in football and being an openly gay Huddersfield Town fan, it’s something I’m passionate about!'
To date, how many members does the group have?
'That’s a tricky question really, much like LGBT athletes in professional sport, there are a lot more gay football fans than we currently class as members. If Proud Terriers can make just one person a day rethink their attitude (whether that be an LGBT football fan or a voice of discontent with what we are trying to achieve) then we as a group have succeeded.'
A Conservative estimate suggest around 6% of the population are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans; in terms of Huddersfield town who are now playing in the English football’s top-flight division and selling out each game with crowds of over 24,000, this would mean there could be around 1440 LGBT fans of the club at each game.
Article continued below...
What does the Proud Terriers bring to the LGBT fan base of Huddersfield Town FC to what wasn't there in the past?
'I hope that the Proud Terriers will be able to help any LGBT supporters to feel a part of the community, so they can come along to the football and be themselves without feeling they are being judged therefore this wasn’t there in the past.'
What media presence does the group have?
'We have our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram where we post regular update on what is going on around Proud Terriers and Huddersfield Town.'
Does the group have any regular get togethers for people to meet up and socialise?
'We try to meet before games and arrange away days together. However, we do in the future have plans to arrange more events such as quiz nights or another social event we can all go to together.'
There are 92 football clubs in the Premier League and EFL, is there many groups like the Proud Terriers set up around these other teams?
'Yes there is and this has kept growing and growing each season. When I first started the group last October there wasn’t as many but now there are 29 official fan groups across the leagues and that figure is to rise in the near future.'
What challenges does the Proud Terriers face going ahead in the future?
'The challenges we are set to face in the future is the stigma still in football and homophobia around it. We are aiming to reach out to more members however we need to be learning on how to support these members and this may come from networking with other fan groups. As a group we are very limited in funding and we’d love to find some support towards this to help get our message out there even more. Linking up with the FA (Football Association) would be brilliant to receive there support.'
What is the support like you receive from Huddersfield Town FC itself?
'The support from the club has been amazing. Since day 1 when we started this journey they have always been there for us as a club and various people within helping us too. We have been in the matchday programme various times most recently for the Rainbow Laces campaign. We had a double page spread explaining what the Rainbow Laces campaign was about and more regularly the likes of Andy Booth (Huddersfield Town Club Ambassador) showing his support for us in his column and linking us up with first team players last year.
Most recently Adam Tomlinson (Huddersfield Town Media Correspondent) organised for me to meet our new central defender Zanka (Mathias Jørgensen) after the game against Manchester City as he has always been a big supporter of LGBT cause even when back in Copenhagen.'
What has been the reaction from the Town supporters towards the group?
'The reaction from the supporters has been overwhelming, 99.9% have fully backed us and shown their support to us as a group. For me the personal touches such as saying such kind things over social media and in person, for that Im so thankful.'
And finally, how would someone join Proud Terriers and is there any cost to join?
'Joining Proud Terriers is free, we are open to all member join whether LGBT or LGBT friendly. To join us on our journey, feel free to contact us through any of our social media. Don’t worry if you don’t have social media you can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org'
Huddersfield Town and Proud Terriers are a great example of the work clubs are doing with the LGBT community but there are still many teams out there without this for the LGBT supporters, hopefully in the near future we will see very soon.