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Proud to be part of the United family

Friday 25 August 2023 18:30

As Manchester prepares for its annual Pride celebration this weekend, we spoke to men's and women's first-team players at United, and members of the Rainbow Devils fans group, to hear about the profound effects that the city and our football community has had on them.

Conversations began with a focus on how welcoming Manchester is and some of the favourite things that the city has to offer.

Diogo Dalot said: “I felt at home straight away, not just at the club, but also in the city. You get this warm welcome from the people. They welcome you like you were a Mancunian forever. It's been a few years now and I really feel part of the family.” 

Lindsay, vice-chair of the Rainbow Devils fans group, echoed Diogo’s sentiment, explaining that she has always felt comfortable and welcome in Manchester.

“For me, the city was a great place to come as it was a place that I knew I would always feel welcome,” said Lindsay.

“Growing up gay in St Helens, in a small town, I didn't always feel welcome or like I belonged. Manchester provided that safe space to come and truly be myself.” 
Victor Lindelof: "Everyone should be able to love who they want."
Marcus Rashford, who famously grew up in Manchester, reinforced Lindsay’s statement by saying: “The people are probably the main thing. Whichever community you come from, everyone's welcoming and you have to stick together, and that's how it's always been.”

Leah Galton expressed her excitement ahead of Manchester Pride and talked about her love of living in the city too.

“I’ve lived in Manchester for a while now,” explained United Women's no.11. “It’s a very welcoming community, obviously, and I think it's nice because it's a city where everyone is just themselves.

“No one really looks at you in a funny way. Everyone just expresses themselves, which is the nicest part about it.”
James, a huge fan of the Reds and a Rainbow Devils committee member, also expressed his love of Manchester and United too. 

“I've always found Manchester a really exciting, welcoming place. It's a massively diverse city and I think it's a city that's been built on immigration and a really diverse mix of people coming together to achieve amazing things.

“There's the football club for a start, but also the Industrial Revolution, the trade union movement, all sorts of different things. I moved back here for university about 21 years ago, and certainly, the diversity of the city and the big LGBTQ+ community we've got here were big factors in that. It was somewhere that I knew that I was going to be welcome.”
Martha Thomas: "[Pride] is really important until everyone is seen as equal."

Sam, who is also a committee member of the Rainbow Devils, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, talked about supporting the club.

“I've had great experiences being a United fan. I came out about four years ago, and that was a really strange time for me because it felt like football and LGBTQ+ things can't coexist. But getting involved with the Rainbow Devils really changed that for me.

“I realised you can be yourself and be a huge football fan, and that's a really, really special thing to learn.”

Christian Eriksen: "I am proud to be part of the Manchester United family because it's so welcoming."
Christian Eriksen is supportive of the Rainbow Devils' positive impact, both in the Manchester United community and the wider city.

Ahead of this weekend’s Pride celebrations, the Danish midfielder said: “It's a very important thing.

“Pride is always a big party. I remember when I was [playing for Ajax] in Amsterdam, there was always a big Pride event on the canals and everything.”

Victor Lindelof agreed: “I think it's very important. Everyone should be able to love who they want.”

The Swedish defender added: “I think pride, first of all, is a great thing, not just here in Manchester, but around the world. So I think it's a very, very important thing to do.”
Emma, a staff member at United: "It's a very supportive place to work. You really feel that every day."

In what is ultimately a celebration of community, Manchester Pride is shaping up to be a great event for all that are involved, and with United staff in attendance, it’s something we’re glad to support as we strive for equality.

United Women forward Martha Thomas said: “Yeah, it's huge. It's really important that everyone is seen as equal. I think these kinds of events are important.

“I went to Pride when I first moved here in 2021, and you just feel that sense of pride to be a part of that community and see people from all walks of life get involved and get excited about the weekend.

“I'm excited for this weekend as well. I'm sure I'll see a lot of celebrations and try to get involved where I can.”

Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council and a United fan, said: “Manchester is a city where we recognise diversity as a real strength and celebrate the crucial role which our different communities play in making this such a thriving and exciting place to be. 
“This welcoming and inclusive city has been at the forefront of the LGBT+ movement. As we reflect on the progress that has been achieved, we also remember that there are still challenges to be overcome. 
“I'll be proud this weekend to be walking at the head of the parade alongside our Lord Mayor as Manchester comes together to mark what is always a joyous occasion.”

Manchester United hopes that everyone attending Manchester Pride 2023 has a great weekend of celebration.