Arsenal LGBT+ group Gay Gooners and Gunnersaurus take ‘Pride in London’ – while raising money for worthy causes
PUBLISHED: 18:06 09 July 2018 | UPDATED: 18:16 09 July 2018
More than 100 Gay Gooners, club staff and sponsors represented Arsenal at Pride in London 2018 at the weekend, as they marched with 30,000 other LGBT+ people and straight allies in the summer sunshine.
The Gunners’ official LGBT+ fans organisation – with support from the Arsenal for Everyone Initiative – marched together in the big parade on Saturday.
The North London giants have long been at the forefront of inclusivity and diversity initiatives and made their presence felt at the popular event in the capital.
All of those marching under the baner of the Gay Gooners were encouraged to donate hard-earned cash to two worthy causes – the Arsenal Foundation and the Albert Kennedy Trust, a voluntary organisation created to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people who are homeless or living in a hostile environment.
Arsenal’s official energy partner Octopus Energy generously agreeed to match every donation from the Gay Gooners and promptly doubled the amount, which is still being totalled.
“To team up with Arsenal and one of their key sponsors Octopus Energy has been a lot of fun,” said Arsenal Gay Gooners Pride co-ordinator Jonathan Green. “We share a lot of the same values, a love of Pride and of course a deep love of our beloved Arsenal.
“We wanted to celebrate those values and that love in the best way we know possible – out and proud on the streets of our beloved home city.”
Loyal Arsenal season ticket holder Jonathan, from Islington, jumped over crowd barriers to join Arsenal Gay Gooners’ first Pride march in 2013 – a far cry from organising this year’s Pride events with the ever-growing group.
He was standing behind crowd barriers in Oxford Street watching the event pass by five years ago. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of red approaching before he realised they were fellow Arsenal fans. Quickly, he scaled the barriers and joined the group.
He told the Islington Gazette: “After all I was a gay guy and an Arsenal fan and I instinctively knew there were my people – who turned out to be the official Arsenal LGBT+ group,” adding, “I knew I was home.”
Fast forward to 2018 as Arsenal’s big, friendly giant green dinosaur with a social conscience, Gunnersaurus – who had earlier tweeted its best wishes to the ‘NHS at 70’ – took part helped launch the Gay Gooners’ Pride activities while waving off the proud marchers on the big day.
On Saturday Arsenal tweeted their support for Arsenal Gay Gooners at Pride and immediately received a deluge of comments – sadly, some negative.
But any negativity was far outweighed by the messages of support from true Arsenal fans – not least Ian Wright and Matt Lucas – who celebrated supporting a club which supports it’s LGBT+ members.
Jonathan concluded: “Yes, this year’s parade was bigger than ever – but even more exciting than that, this was the first Pride appearance of club mascot Gunnersaurus.
“Next year we have even bigger plans and want to raise even more money for charity – Pride in London 2019 will be bigger and better than ever.”