Official LGBT supporters group launched at Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace Football Club’s LGBT supporters group, Proud and Palace, hosted its official launch in an event at Selhurst Park on Wednesday 3 August.
Held in the club’s boardroom, the launch began with Proud and Palace’s founding members – Stephanie Fuller, Emma Wright and Deano Tracey-Cline – delivering a talk about the formation of the group and its important role within the Eagles’ support and wider football community.
Later in the evening, Anwar Uddin, the lead on the Football Supporters’ Federation and Kick It Out’s Fans For Diversity Campaign, and Troy Townsend, Kick It Out’s Education and Development Manager, joined Wayne Trakas-Lawlor, Civic Mayor of Croydon, and Donald Forde, Head of Crystal Palace Foundation on a panel to discuss diversity in football, acceptance and change within the game.
Anwar praised the launch of the group and highlighted the importance of showing support for the LGBT community at Crystal Palace.
He said: “It’s brilliant to see an official group for LGBT supporters at Crystal Palace, joining the likes of Spurs (Proud Lilywhites), Arsenal (Gay Gooners), Norwich (Proud Canaries) and many others in giving the LGBT community a voice and a presence at their club.
“Through Pride in Football, the umbrella network set up to bring together LGBT fan groups from across the country, I’m sure Proud and Palace will play a vital role in celebrating the inclusion of LGBT supporters within the game that we love.”
Troy hailed the progress being made in achieving equality for the LGBT community within football.
“I’m delighted that Proud and Palace have become the latest LGBT supporters group to have an official presence within football,” he said. “Tackling homophobia, as well as promoting awareness of LGBT issues and the inclusion of LGBT fans within football, are key facets of the work that Kick It Out does in challenging discrimination in the English game.
“There remains a long way to go in achieving equality within football for the LGBT community, but official recognition of their presence can only serve to advance the equality agenda and will no doubt give confidence to the LGBT supporters that they form a key part of our game.”
Troy concluded: “It was great to be in attendance at the official launch and witness the support Proud and Palace received, not only from the club and the Crystal Palace community but also from other club’s supporters. It was a truly special night.”
Proud and Palace’s Stephanie spoke to Palace TV about the event.
“We’re all huge Palace fans, but all happen to be LGBT,” she said. “We came up with the group because we recognised that there was a large number of Palace fans who are LGBT, but as a minority group we’re probably a bit harder to spot.
“We’ve always been here, we’re all huge Palace fans, we’ve supported the club through thick and thin, and we wanted to give a collective voice, to unite people. We want more people to come to Palace and to enjoy supporting Palace, and being LGBT shouldn’t be a reason for you not to support Palace because it’s a great club, it’s a club for all of us. And really we just wanted to convey that message.”
Stephanie continued: “It wasn’t about any particular problems at Selhurst Park, it was more about saying ‘actually, we’ve always been here’ and we want to make our fan base aware that we’re a part of this fan group too. It’s for LGBT fans, but we’ve also got a lot of straight allies as well.”