– When was Proud Huddle CSC founded and how did it come about?
L: The first meeting we had was in January 2018, and it was a bit random how it all got started. I basically got sent – not an anonymous email but – an email to which I was like ‘what the hell is this?’, straight to my email account, but to multiple people, maybe eight people in the original email list. It was really brief: ‘Hi there, just getting in touch to see if you would be interested to start up an LGBT supporters club for Celtic?’. The name of the sender was Sirri Topping from LEAP Sports and I know Sirri very, very well.
I’ll be honest, right, and I’ve said this to the guys, I told them at the meeting ‘do we really need this [LGBT supporters group]?’ And I know that’s really odd to hear from a founding member, but I’ve never – I’ve had one instant my whole time that I’ve felt unsafe, not unsafe but a bit funny feeling, along the lines of ‘ugh I don’t like this’. We all eventually met up at LEAP Sports and we all sort of gave our own experiences and no one felt really threatened or offended or anything, so I think the whole point of the group – what my conclusion is of why we have to set up is just purely visibility. There was a campaign, Glasgow City brought it about, I don’t know if it was last year or the season before. They launched their own campaign, I think they had in on the back of their shirts, and it said ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ and they were basically fighting against the fact that they don’t get media coverage or not as much as they should and they could get. I took this to the meeting and that was my idea like ‘you know what, I’ve never felt unsafe or unwelcome in anything to do with Celtic, that’s my honest to God opinion, but you can’t be what you can’t see’.
How crackin’ would it be if we did have a section or something and a young kid is seeing a rainbow flag flying and they would know that it’s alright. That’s how I felt. Last year I went to my first pride march with United Glasgow and on that day we [Celtic] played Kilmarnock, so me and Steph missed the fucking game (laughter) cause we both went to this march. We came to Merchant City after the march and we walked to a pub and me and Steph were doing the ‘who scored?’ (laugh) and the game was at Kilmarnock that day, at Rugby Park, the day of Glasgow’s pride march, and the Celtic supporters flew a rainbow flag and had a big banner with a rainbow flag that said ‘a club open to all’, one of the club’s motto’s sort of thing and I was nearly sitting in tears, like ‘oh my god this is brilliant’ and not just because it’s my club but because it’s a football club.
I was so inspired, thinking how that’s really touching. That’s why, when we got sent the email, I thought ‘do we need it?’ There’s acceptance on the stands. Otherwise, that banner would’ve not been there, at an away game as well. And I think we all just came to the conclusion we don’t feel unsafe or unwelcome or anything like that. It’s just about visibility. If I, when I was younger, had known there was an LGBT Celtic supporters club, not even joining it, just to know that it was there, I would’ve been more relaxed and at ease. I think that’s what it’s all about. If we can manage to make people feel a little more comfortable that’s a win, 100%.
Proud Huddle has given me a tribe, a group of people that I can relate to. We’re all Celtic mad, but we also align to this LGBT stuff and we can all understand one another. It’s so nice to have Proud Huddle, which is everybody – you don’t have to be LGBT to join, of course – it’s just nice to know that that group is there and that’s what it’s for specifically. I wrote an article for LEAP sports, sort of like a press release for the group, and I’ll never top this bit of writing so I’ll just repeat it again (laughter). The way I described it was the meeting was basically just like-minded strangers becoming friends – something along those lines. We were literally all strangers that got emailed an anonymous email at the same time and I was like ‘what, why have I been chosen for this’ and we are all different ages and genders, sexualities, different work, it’s just nice, like-minded people becoming pals. That’s all it is and if that’s all there will ever be I will be pretty pleased.
– What is the group doing to reach out to people and let everyone know that you exist?
L: That’s what we’re working on just now. We do have a large following on Facebook, which I never really checked until the other night. I think we have a 170 odd folk, which I thought was mad. In a couple of weeks time, we’re hoping to have a meeting with Celtic supporter liaison officer, his name is John Paul Taylor. I had to write our constitution first and then we’ll sit with him and we’re going to be quite demanding and say how can you help us, how can you get us out there, what can the club do? And what can we do? Because, I don’t know if every Scottish team has, I don’t think they have, but there’s a Scottish LGBT charter, that the clubs have signed up to. Both Celtic and Rangers have signed up to it, Partick Thistle as well. LEAP sports, who put us all together, are doing a Festival Fortnight in June and we’ve been asked to come up with some events. So we’re hoping to do a quiz, and in that way, we can hopefully reach out to people. In terms of promotion things that’s like all the stuff that’s coming up this year.
… there’s a fine line between just tolerance towards someone else and acceptance, and that is a difference
- What has the reception for the supporters group been like?L: It’s been good! 16 people came to our first meeting in the pub, as we were watching our first game together. I thought no one would show up but then all these people started bursting through the door and I was like ‘fuck guys, what have we done!’ (laughter). We’ve actually created something here! The reception for the first night was great, and people were so pleased that we came up with this.
I think we are a very accepting group of fans, and I don’t mean that to be bias, I think that’s just the nature of the club, that’s the way it’s always been, that the motto, it’s ‘a club open to all’ that’s just the way it is, and if you’re not like that, fuck off. That’s legit how I’ve heard many a Celtic fan talk but I think there’s a fine line with that motto between just tolerance towards someone else and acceptance, and that is a difference. I think that’s as well the path we’re trying to get people to cross. I wrote specifically in our constitution that we are not a club about tolerance, rather this is about acceptance. Because I’m fed up with people just being – they wouldn’t do you any harm, talking about sexuality, race, gender, but a lot of people have an attitude of ‘just don’t bother with them, it’s fine’.
In terms of the reception, there are three main things – first, the people who turned up to the meeting and were really positive about it. One thing that stuck in my mind was ‘there’s a space for me, there’s a place that I can go’, they just kept saying thank you. Secondly, there was some negative response on fan forums and social media but it was more questioning ‘why is this needed?’. Thirdly, there’s the clubs association with the Catholicism. That’s one thing that I’m still a bit ‘could this come up in conversation?’. Not from the club directly maybe, but certainly by supporters. I would hope that it wouldn’t, but when you think about it – would that come into someone’s mind? Would that be part of the club’s nature to be – not not supporters but maybe keep it a bit at an arm’s length? Or keep it a bit under the radar, you know what I mean? I couldn’t tell you what the reception is, because I haven’t had that dialogue yet.
If you are interested to get involved with Proud Huddle in anyway or just like to get in contact with them, they can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They have a Facebook page called Proud Huddle C.S.C as well as a Twitter under the handle @CelticCSCPride. Follow them there to make sure not to miss any of the upcoming events!