Thistle's Proud Jags continue development
Over the past decade, Partick Thistle, an alternative to Glasgow’s famous old firm, have continued to be one of the most family-friendly and inclusive football clubs in the country. The club currently offers a number of enticing offers aimed to make football more accessible for as many different people as possible. One of the most successful promotions the club has offered is the under 16’s go free. This offer, which began in 2008, allows anyone under the age of 16 attend Thistle games at no cost and this has helped increase the number of young people attending games, thus making the sport more accessible to a wider audience.
More recently the club has developed links and help set up and support an LGBTQ+ supporters club, Proud Jags. The supporters’ group aims to help Scottish football become more inclusive and promote visibility, while attempting to tackle problems such as homophobia on the terraces.
In last month’s edition Amy Shimmin wrote a piece focusing on the rise of LGBTQ+ supporters’ groups in Scottish football and included the views of three supporters’ clubs – Proud Dons, Proud Dees and Proud Jags. The Glasgow Guardian has contacted Proud Jags founder Stephen McDowall-Laing, to further discuss the local supporters’ club’s development.
Proud Jags have a number of aims that they wish to achieve to help improve LGBTQ+ inclusion in football. They hope that “the match-day experience at Firhill will be free of any homophobic, biphobic or transphobic incidents” and that “through increasing visibility and inclusivity, fans, players and staff at our club will feel free to be open and safe about their diversity.”
McDowall-Laing has praised Partick Thistle for the effort that they have put in to help support Proud Jags. “Jacqui Low, one of Thistle’s directors, and chief executive Ian Maxwell knew how important it was for Thistle to be at the forefront of efforts to confine homophobia in football to history”, he claims, adding that, “Beth Adamson, Thistle’s Supporters Liaison Officer, was a great help in moving things forward.”
Proud Jags acknowledges the hard-work LEAP Sports Scotland has done; the charity has, “provided useful data and information on the extent of the challenge confronting those who want to make football a truly inclusive game.”
The group also points to Out for Sport’s report into tackling homophobia and transphobia in sport, which highlights the problems in which LGBTQ+ people face when partaking in sport. The report shows that almost 80% of respondents believe there is a problem and there should be a high profile campaign to tackle these problems. Only 5% of respondents believed that there is currently enough being done to tackle homophobia and transphobia in sport.
Proud Jags, have also mentioned the good work that anti-racism educational charity Show Racism the Red Card has done in the sport: “Show Racism the Red Card has helped end the ugly racism that permeated football for many decades. Now we have to do the same with homophobia and transphobia so that in the future all Scottish football grounds will provide a welcoming environment for everyone.”
2017 was a year of success for Proud Jags and other LGBTQ+ supporters’ groups. Every SPFL premiership side signed up for the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter, meaning Scottish football clubs will pledge to improve inclusivity in football. Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces Day on 2 December, was also a very positive step in the right direction.
Proud Jags are also hoping to link-up with an established gay bar in the city centre, to bring Proud Jags to the LGBT scene as well as having a social hub for members to meet up post-match. They also hope to take part in this year’s Glasgow Pride 2018 – which takes place on 14 and 15 July at Kelvingrove Park. “We look forward to promoting our team as an inclusive club at Glasgow Pride and hopefully bringing new fans to support the club.”
There are now three ways to follow Proud Jags on Facebook, on Twitter @proudjags and on their web site www.proudjags.com