Louise Clarke believes AFC Bournemouth’s ‘We are allies’ campaign has increased awareness in Proud Cherries.
The LGBT+ supporter group was founded by Louise three years ago and membership currently stands at around 100.
In conjunction with the Rainbow Laces campaign, which tackles homophobia in sport, the Cherries launched its ‘We are allies’ drive in December.
Staff, players and fans held up boards which promoted the following message – We are open-minded.
We are listeners. We are supportive. We are inclusive. We are willing to talk. We are allies.
And Louise thinks the campaign has had the desired effect as she has received support from across the LGBT+ community and also from a wider audience.
We Are Proud | Everyone, Together
She told afcb.co.uk: “What has definitely grown over the past three years has been the support from the club and the visibility.
“We are attracting new members and the biggest thing for me is that we are always attracting new allies.
“We are quite a small club so we were never going to attract an extremely large group.
“But the allies campaign is massive because they are the really important people, the people that aren’t LGBT+ but are promoting inclusion and equality.
“I know a lot of people listen to our message and get on board. I always think people will stop and listen to someone who sticks up for us when they don’t have to.
“Off the back of the club’s ‘We are allies’ campaign, we have had a lot of people who have gone out of their way to message me or Proud Cherries to say they really believe in the message we are promoting. It has been a joint effort between the club and the fans and it’s amazing.”
June is Pride month and is dedicated to celebrating LGBT+ communities all around the world.
Traditionally, there are parades and marches but due to coronavirus and social distancing, most events have been cancelled, although the celebrations will continue on Zoom, TikTok and other social media channels.
Bourne Free Pride weekend, which was due to take place in Bournemouth between July 3rd and 5th, has had to be shelved, with the club due to have had a presence at the event for the fourth year in succession.
Louise, who works closely with AFC Bournemouth equality partnerships executive Ben Abberstein, is also a trustee of Bourne Free.
She added: “Of course we were very disappointed we had to cancel but safety and everything else comes first.
“The response we have had from the club with being involved in Bourne Free Pride weekend has been absolutely amazing.
“I speak to other clubs and supporter groups and we often lead the way on this. We are regularly the first club to do many things, presence at Pride being one of those.
“One good thing to come out of this year’s cancellation is that it has highlighted what an amazing club and community we have. The support we have received has been second to none.
“The relationship Bourne Free has with the club is very strong and Ben always wants to know what we are doing, how the club can be involved and what presence they can have.
“The support from AFC Bournemouth, our sponsors and partners has been a massive help through this. They have all been saying ‘we’re here if you need anything’ and that just shows how strong our relationships are.”
To find out more about Proud Cherries and how to get involved, email [email protected].