June is typically celebrated as ‘Pride Month’ around the world, although in Leeds our big Pride rally has recently taken place in early-August… around the start of the new season! Many towns and cities have a wonderful, colourful and happy parade: but there is more to it than just a party in the sunshine..
The ‘Pride Rally’ actually began in New York City in June 1970, when a parade was organised to commemorate the events of the previous year. In June 1969 a fragile relationship between police and local LGBT people came to a head with police raids on the Stonewall Inn, a celebrated gay bar in Manhattan: the local community rallied round and protested over a period of days, defending and celebrating their LGBT friends.
That tradition has continued and grown into what we now recognise as the worldwide institution of ‘Pride’. But it is much more than just a fun parade and party and face-paints and rainbow images everywhere: it is much deeper, and the clue is in the name.
For decades, LGBT people have felt they need to hide their true nature and feelings. They have been discriminated against and victimised in the streets, in workplaces, in housing and leisure settings – including sport. Yet, through the very same decades, LGBT people have done wonderful things: from Alan Turing cracking the ‘Enigma Code’ to Tom Daley and Nicola Adams and their glorious and Olympic pride.
So ‘Pride Month’ and ‘Pride’ parades matter. They acknowledge and celebrate the wonderful place and contribution of LGBT people in our society. They allow us to say: this is me, this is how I am - I am not going to hide or feel nervous or shy because I am valid and I here… proud to be me, just as I am.
And for our straight neighbours Pride events are a platform to say: you’re ok, you belong, you matter, you’re part of us and you belong; we recognise you, and we welcome you, and we are on your side. Be proud to be yourself. We are proud to stand beside you.
This matters because in football, sadly, there is still no ‘out’ male player in any professional league in the UK. And many LGBT people feel they can’t take part in the game they love so deeply - either playing or as a spectator - because of the jibes and chants, and the feeling that they are not welcome and can’t be themselves. No Daleys or Adams here.
So it counts for a lot that Leeds United are happy to actively support Pride; the club continues to work hard throughout every part of the organisation, in support for events such as ‘Rainbow Laces’ and LGBT History month, and working with valued partners including us at ‘Marching Out Together’ and Leeds United Supporters Trust.
Circumstances have denied us a ‘Pride’ day in Leeds again this year. But we WILL be back and march out together. *ALL* Leeds aren’t we.
***An abridged version of this piece appeared on he official LUFC website in June 2021, here: https://www.leedsunited.com/news/community/28237/marching-out-together-leeds-united-and-proud
See here for a post by LUFC on key ‘Pride’ statistics: https://www.leedsunited.com/news/community/28246/important-stats-around-pride-month-2021