Proud Canaries, launched at the Norwich City game v Spurs in February 2014, was the second officially recognised LGBT supporters’ groups in the country (the first was the Gay Gooners). The group is a social forum for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans supporters of Norwich City FC but is also working with the Club to make Carrow Road a safer and more pleasant place for everyone by promoting the inclusion and challenging discrimination.
Watch an animation by Di Cunningham about why we started Proud Canaries and what we hoped to achieve.
Since our inception a number of other LGBT fan groups have been established including Canal Street Blues (Manchester City), Proud Lilywhites (Spurs), Pride of Irons (West Ham), Proud Valiants (Charlton), LGBT Pies (Nott’s County) and Proud Foxes (Leicester City and closer to home there are now Rainbow Tractors – we even met up for a drink at Portman Rd!
Our value as a campaigning force was recognized recently by National Anti Discrimination organization Kick It Out who invited Proud Canaries to deliver Workshops at the #PrideInFootball event in London and by the Football Association who invited us to Wembley to watch the England Slovenia game; and asked us to hang the Proud Canaries banner alongside those of other LGBT fan groups to demonstrate their commitment to fighting prejudice.
We’ve been warmly welcomed by NCFC and the then Chief Executive David McNally met with group representatives at an early stage; he made it clear that the club would make every effort to drive discrimination and hatred from the stands. We’ve also been offered support and advice from other NCFC supporters’ groups – the Supporters’ Trust, the Barclay End Projekt and Forces Canaries for example and on the 3 occasions we’ve paraded on the pitch at half time we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive reaction from the fans.
It helps that one of the club’s heroes was gay (Justin Fashanu is still the only top level player in the world to have ‘come out’). Justin would have had his 53rd birthday in the week of our launch and the club set up a tribute page on Facebook. The response from fans was tremendous and heartwarming – with many wishing Justin had lived and played during more enlightened times. We were delighted when Amal Fashanu, Justin’s niece, agreed to be a patron and of course, getting the world’s most famous gay man and Canary Stephen Fry to agree to be Honorary President was a fantastic endorsement.
The NCFC board are fully committed to combatting any homophobia at Carrow Road. They routinely display the Stonewall ‘Some People Are Gay – Get Over It’ in club colours on the scoreboard – a first in UK Football – and all stewards have been trained to deal with homophobic incidents; in conjunction with the police if necessary. In addition, the club endorse reporting of discriminatory behaviour through the Kick It Out app. At the end of last season Kick It Out awarded NCFC their Equality Standard to recognise their work in promoting equality and tackling discrimination citing their connection with Proud Canaries as an example of good practice. On 30th July 2016 NCFC flew the rainbow flag for the first time as part of the Norwich Pride celebrations.