County with Pride: "Visibility is key and important now more than ever!"

As Pride Month 2022 draws to an end, we caught up with Adam Smith, Vice Chair of County with Pride to discuss why Pride Month is still so important.

A report from the Home Office published in October 2021 recorded that anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime has doubled across the last four years, with Adam signalling that as one of the key reasons why LGBTQ+ initiatives are only increasing in importance.

"Just in Wales alone, we’ve seen a huge increase in homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate and abuse," he said.

"UK-wide we’re still debating the rights of trans individuals and only in this past week, there was a targeted terror attack at a Pride event in Oslo.

“Visibility is key and important now more than ever, we need change and we need to become equal in society."

Newport County AFC remain proud to continue to be involved in LGBTQ+-specific dedicated fixtures and initiatives, with the club joining the EFL with having rainbow-coloured captain's armbands, corner flags and laces during all dedicated Rainbow Laces fixtures. 

The world of football was also heartened in May of this year when Jake Daniels of Blackpool became the first openly-gay active male footballer since 1990 with the likes of Thomas Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers also taking the brave step of coming out in recent years following their retirement from the sport.

“On a monthly basis, you see reports about fans chanting homophobic slurs to players, a referee or a manager and you just know [any Out player] is going to be trolled left, right and centre, their mental health is key," Adam continued.

"They’re in the limelight and I’m glad that when Jake came out, Blackpool really supported him and I was shocked how welcoming it was, but I also know he has been trolled and faced a lot of homophobic abuse because of it and people aren’t going to [come out] if they don’t feel safe."

There is plenty of work still be done though, with Adam admitting that attending live football can still lead to him feeling uncomfortable during an event that should be enjoyable.

“Sport is about fun, football should be about fun but people need to understand that people won’t turn up to a game and won’t invest in clubs if they feel threatened because of their identity or sexuality.

“I’m still a bit intimidated going to matches, I still look around wondering ‘are people watching me?’. That can only change if we all work together as one unit and it’s not a token gesture, it needs to come together: united as a team.

“Let’s all work together to create a more friendly, united, and more loving community so we can celebrate the success of Newport County AFC together."