Huddersfield Town fans come from all different walks of life and backgrounds. Both the club and its fanbase tend to be good at encouraging people from different sections of society to be part of the Town family, whether this be ethnic groups, disabled people or people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
One group in particular who travel up and down the country to watch Town are the Proud Terriers. Formed in 2016 by lifelong fan Ryan Mather, the Proud Terriers are now well ingrained into the Huddersfield Town supporters’ family groups alongside the Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association and Cowshed Loyal.
Ryan, who is openly gay, talked exclusively to Huddersfield Hub about where the game generally is with regards to LGBTQ+ issues.
“Being a gay fan in football is very challenging,” said Ryan. “Since setting up the Proud Terriers, the support Huddersfield Town has shown me from day one has been incredible.
“The support from the majority of our fans has been positive too which means a lot to me as well.”
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the shutdown of football to fans meant the Proud Terriers could only promote themselves and their message via social media. However now, with the return of fans to stadia, Ryan wants to talk to fellow fans and discuss LGBTQ+ issues.
He said: “Since the return of crowds, I feel like homophobia has got worse because we are simply being let down by the FA as they do not do enough.
“We are hearing more about homophobic incidents but that’s probably because people feel more able to report what they hear and there are more ways to report it too which is so beneficial. If we don’t report these kind of things then how are we going to see change?
“However, my own feeling, and those of other LGBTQ+ fans I speak to, is that the problem is getting worse and homophobia is a big issue in football now.
“There was an incident at the Plymouth game against Accrington Stanley where one of their players was subjected to constant homophobic slurs from a small section of supporters. Both clubs acted quickly by releasing a statement and investigations are ongoing.
“Sometimes within a crowd I feel intimidated or at least uncomfortable. I’m talking in general terms, not about Town fans specifically. I still, to this day, feel scared to get my Proud Terriers flag out due to the reaction I may receive from fans. This is the reality.
“I have been subject to homophobia everywhere I go in some way. A few incidents on the coach to away games as well as feeling negative emotions within a stadium too. Homophobia surrounds the game all the time and this is why I work hard to continue to push for change with my work at Proud Terriers.”