Aberdeen FC have become the first Scottish football club to set up an official LGBT supporters’ group.
The new group, which is known as Proud Dons, was launched yesterday by former club captain Russell Anderson and the Rev Scott Rennie, an Aberdeen supporter and the minister of the city’s Queen’s Cross Church.
The initiative has come about as part of the Pittodrie club’s commemorations for LGBT History Month. A spokesperson for Aberdeen FC explained that Proud Dons has been created to “fulfil the vision of a club and community which is welcoming to all regardless of race, religion, sexuality or gender”.
Proud Dons will fly the flag for inclusivity and will campaign to challenge homophobia, but it also will provide a social focal point for LGBT Abderdeen fans and their friends and families.
Mr Rennie said: “I am immensely chuffed to see this happen and for Aberdeen to be the first club in Scotland to recognise the need to address homophobia in football and to back a fan group for LGBT Dons fans and their friends.
“Most of the big clubs in England have done the same in recent years, and it speaks volumes for AFC’s commitment to the whole community of the north east that they are the first in Scotland to do the same. I hope the fan group will provide a great social forum for fans to talk everything Aberdeen FC, football, and make new friends among the Dons support.”
He added that it was vital that LGBT football supporters, especially younger people, don’t feel isolated: “It’s important we tackle homophobia in Scottish football too, so that young folk growing up going to games, don’t feel awkward or like outsiders at their own club’s games, like some of us did growing up.”
His comments are supported by research from Stonewall, which found that homophobia remains an all too common feature at football matches. The charity’s findings included the startling statistic that seven in ten football supporters have personally witnessed homophobic abuse at games.
Aberdeen’s move has been welcomed by many in the LGBT+ community, and lays down a challenge to Scotland’s other football clubs to follow suit. The establishment of a network of similar-minded supporters’ groups would be likely to have a significant impact on challenging the effects of homphobia and in improving LGBT+ visibility within sport. It would also go some way to help fulfil the SFA’s inclusion agenda.