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LGBTQ+ football supporters join forces across Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire

Founded by Sheffield's Rainbow Blades, the new group will provide mutual support and a united front against anti-LGBTQ+ hostility.


Rainbow Blades at Sheffield's Pinknic in July.

Rainbow Blades.

LGBTQ+ supporters groups from across Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have formed a new alliance to provide mutual support to each other and to create a welcoming environment for queer fans in football.

The idea originated from Sheffield United's well-established Rainbow Blades group, who said that LBGTQ+ groups across the game "should support and help one another."

The founding members of the alliance are Rainbow Blades, Marching Out Together (Leeds United), Rainbow Owls (Sheffield Wednesday), Proud Millers (Rotherham United), Rainbow Spireites (Chesterfield FC) and Proud Stags (Mansfield Town).

"From personal experience, over the last three years, it can be very challenging at times to run an LGBTQ+ football supporters’ groups maybe even more so now with the current climate," said James Laley of Rainbow Blades. "Not only can it open you up to hate, but we are all volunteers who do this in our own time."

Read our feature from last week about Rainbow Owls, Rainbow Blades and the growing movement to tackle homophobia and transphobia in football

"I also know it comes with its rewards. Those rewards aren’t just personal growth within society and the world of football, but also, and most importantly, the positive effects that these groups have had on the landscape of football for a diverse, inclusive and modern world."

"These groups help countless numbers of LGBTQ+ fans to feel safe to attend football grounds as their authentic selves and find the confidence to attend matchday socials with other likeminded individuals."

The purpose of the alliance is to share best practice, offer peer-to-peer support, organise joint events and empower each member group to reach their full potential.

In a mark of how quickly the movement of queer supporters groups is growing, Wednesday's Rainbow Owls only formed in June, while Chesterfield's Rainbow Spireites launched last month.

All the groups involved are also part of the UK-wide Pride in Football network, but the new alliance will allow them to collaborate on a more manageable scale. The group have said they welcome any new groups joining from Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

The two more established members of the alliance, Rainbow Blades and Leeds's Marching Out Together, have already shared flyer designs and are in the process of creating a library of shared resources for all groups to use.

"We truly feel that together, we can support each other in building our groups and making football truly welcoming for all," said Marching Out Together, who started in 2017 and now have over 400 members.

Rainbow Owls said that being part of the alliance would help them "leave a lasting legacy for our LGBTQ+ fans and ensure that there will always be an LGBTQ+ supporters’ group for them."

Chesterfield's Rainbow Spireites added that they were "created by fans, for fans, and aim to use the love of our club to not only provide support for members of the LGBTQIA+ community attending games, but also help support the club to support us.”

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