As part of LGBTQ+ month this February, Notts County are celebrating by recognising some of the great work their LGBTQ+ fan groups do.
Steven Grocock, the co-founder of one supporters’ group LGBTQ+ pies, spoke about the work he and other members do to support and represent all members of the LGBTQ+ community within football.
Mr Grocock said: “Unofficially, a small group of LGBTQ+ fans have been attending games together for the last decade or so but the LGBTQ+ Pies were formed back in 2015 after I asked the club if they would support the community with Football vs. Homophobia.
“The board and media team were amazing and really got on board with the cause.
“Over the last 10 years, we have had some fantastic changes to the lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities with same sex marriage, equal rights in fostering and adoption, and with the equality act.
“Having football teams across the leagues wearing rainbow laces and armbands is something that would have helped me out massively as a teen.
Although awareness and understanding has been raised, Mr Grocock said that greater effort was needed to promote equality when it comes to the transgender and non-binary community.
“I know of trans fans across the country who wouldn’t attend football matches for fear of issues, and I think all football clubs could do more.”
The central theme for this years’ History Month is ‘The Arc is Long’ which focuses on social justice and changing attitudes within the community.
The evolution of attitudes within football in the last ten years is something LGBT+ pies has witnessed, from its inception in 2011 to the present day, and Mr Grocock says that continuing to educate himself has enabled him to help advice and signpost for others in need of support.
“In 2011, we were just three guys who knew each other from Nottingham and went out at weekends together.
“In 2022, we have a large social media presence and have had our flag flown across the world at games and pride festivals.
Mr Grocock also volunteers for Just a Ball Game?, a charity that has been working for equality in football for the last 12 years.
Other organisations such as Kick It Out have collaborated with Stonewall to champion rainbow laces and help with educate sportspeople across the UK.
As far as aims for the future go, Mr Grocock said: “I feel the main thing Nottingham is missing is an LGBTQ+ Centre, something I hope to rectify in the next few years.
“Football still needs to move faster when it comes to equity.
“It’s a real bug bear of mine that in 2022 we still have racism and sexism going unchallenged at stadiums across the country, this is an issue from fans that could and should be addressed by proper education when it comes to stewarding within grounds.
“Equally, it baffles me that we still have so many obstacles for fans with disabilities when it comes to attending games, from accessible toilets to parking.”