Proud Stags flying the flag for Mansfield Town's LGBTQ+ fans

The recently-launched Proud Stags group, which aims to give LGBTQ+ Mansfield Town fans a home, have been delighted by the initial response.

Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 2:12 pm

Straight Stags fans are also welcome to join what is designed to be an inclusive club – the brainchild of Stags fan Terry Adams.

Mansfield Town Football Club have been absolutely fantastic and we are going to meet up soon to discuss what we can do together,” he said.

“It is really going forward with them and I have been told that John and Carolyn Radford, Nigel Clough and David Sharpe are really supportive of the group.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Kieran Halpin-Danby (laughing) and Terry Adams share a joke at a Stags game.

“We are also meeting with the dedicated Mansfield Town police officer at the Bristol Rovers match and we are now quite close with the SSA and their away travel and are meeting them too.”

Proud Stags was born last month.

“It was my idea and I had been wanting to do it for the last few years,” said Terry.

“But it wasn't until I saw the stuff that Chelsea Pride were doing that I thought – what would be the harm in seeing where this goes?

Terry Adams - founder of Proud Stags.

“On 16th January I created a Twitter account for it and got a few responses – then all of a sudden it took off like no tomorrow.

“One of the first people to follow us was someone called Richard from Foxes Pride at Leicester City and they have been fantastic, giving me tips and where to go.

“We went onto Instagram as well and then developed it into a club with members.

“We also have our straight allies too. We are not just an LGBTQ+ group. You can be a straight ally. We are not exclusive to one category – we are open to everyone.”

The biggest boost for Terry was discovering for the first time that he wasn't the only gay Stags supporter.

“A guy called Kieran Halpin-Danby messaged me and said he was an LGBTQ+ Mansfield Town season ticket holder and I was absolutely shocked to know there was someone else,” he said.

“The other thing that had been putting me off was thinking I may be the only gay Stags fan at the club. It was actually quite overwhelming hearing you weren't alone.

“I have now asked Kieran to help run the club as it's getting that busy and he will be my right hand man. He has been a godsend and has so many ideas.

“I now live in Hemel Hempstead so it can be hard to get some of the midweek games with work, though I do get to 90 per cent of matches, but now I have Kieran as well

“We met for the first time at the Barrow game and he said he used to work at the club as well which is fantastic to have someone in the group that is quite close to a few people within the club.

“We had a fantastic time together at Barrow – and a few too many drinks.

“We want to be a fun group and have a few drinks before and after games and organise social and quiz nights. We want to bring people together.”

Terry said he had never experienced homophobia from other Stags fans until some nasty comments online last week.

“I have never personally had any issues at Mansfield Town Football Club and people there do know I am openly gay,” he said.

“When Mansfield Town put out a post on their social media we always knew we were going to get the odd idiot that will want to comment. But I won't let them deter me.

“That one per cent were saying homophobic stuff and the club and police are investigating it – they have the names of the people. The club's response was quick and excellent. I can't fault them.

“Otherwise, 99 per cent of fans that have messaged me have been so supportive – and most of them are straight as well. We have a lot of straight allies at Mansfield that are really fighting for this group with us.

“Some of the comments on Stagsnet have been absolutely fantastic and lovely to read and we can't thank them enough.”

He added: “I think we have come a long way since the 70s and 80s and bridges have been built.

“Football is a lot safer now for fans regardless of your ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

“We have come so far now, though there is still stuff to be done as homophobia and racism seem to be building up again in football.

“If I was born in the 70s I wouldn't have gone to a football match knowing I was gay.

“But I wouldn't want that to deter from the good work clubs have done and other groups like Kick It Out.”

The big question is when will a professional footballer feel safe to come out as gay?

“I really hope it happens,” said Terry. “They are obviously out there but I can understand why they won't come out, especially if you're reading stuff on social media.

“But I am hoping it will happen with the amount of support that is out there now, especially with the LGBTQ+ supporters' groups.

“A footballer came out in Australia and there is a player-manager in non-league openly gay plus some players.

“So I don't think we are far off a professional player coming out in this country. It's when and not if.

“If someone high profile in the Premier League or Championship came out that would be the first stepping stone for many to come out.”

Stags Pride membership is open to all LGBTQ+ and straight allies who are Mansfield Town supporters as well as local non-football fans who are LGBTQ+ or straight allies.

Future events include marching with Foxes Pride in the Leicestershire Pride march and also marching with Notts County and Nottingham Forest at Nottingham Pride.

You can speak with them or join on Twitter or Instagram via @ProudStags