My name is Maz and I have known that I am a lesbian since I was 12 or 13 years old. In high school, there was such a big stigma attached when it came to coming out as gay, lesbian, bi and trans and it was very difficult to do this while I was also being bullied. I kept this bottled up throughout high school and the death of my uncle at the end of my time in school only served for me to hide my sexuality even more. I refused to believe that I was attracted to women and I ended up having “relationships” with men which were completely loveless, had no physical contact and I just wasn’t happy. I lived in Leeds for a while and I realized in 2014 while I was also struggling with depression (I have had this since high school) and anxiety that I needed to be true to myself and this was after I tried to commit suicide as I was so angry with myself for not telling my “boyfriend” the truth about my sexuality. So when we split up and I moved out, I came out to my family as lesbian and then my friends. They were all incredibly supportive and I was overwhelmed with emotion. The months that followed were spent advocating the LGBT+ community and I still do this to this very day. I have founded Time 2 Talk - Breaking Stigmas which is dedicated to helping people who also suffer from depression, anxiety and other forms of mental health conditions and I am also a member of the Rainbow Alliance which is dedicated to helping the LGBT+ community with mental health.
While my depression and anxiety have never truly gone away, coming out enabled me to do things with much more confidence and I’ve made so many friends who truly support me. This is where Leeds United come in. I have been a lifelong supporter and I always envisaged a LGBT+ supporters group that Leeds would endorse. This came to fruition earlier this year when I found out through Pride of Football that there were plans afoot for a group in Leeds. I then got in touch with Drew and we exchanged tweets and it was clear that I wanted to be a part of this and I wanted to help promote the group. So that is exactly what I did. Of course, I got a lot of questions and some of those were negative but for the most part the Leeds United community were extremely supportive.
On a personal level, this has exceeded my wildest expectations. I am now a board member of Marching Out Together, I have made lifelong friends in all of the other board members and we are together committed to making a difference, to kick out homophobia in football as well as at Elland Road, we welcome all allies, we never discriminate. We regularly meet up at games and as me and Andrew are also on the Leeds United Supporters Advisory Board, we relay our concerns to the committee and this enables us to communicate really well with the club.
I am a proud member of Marching Out Together and I am dedicated to giving this my all. #MOT