Tracy Brown Interview Cover Image

Interview with Tracy Brown

To celebrate Pride this month we’ll be launching our latest production Gay Pride And No Prejudice which opens at the Union Theatre in Southwark on 8th October. 

This week we caught up with Tracy Brown, Chair of Chelsea Pride and Fan Advisory to the Board, at Chelsea FC, to discuss her thoughts on Pride and Chelsea FC’s plans for the 2024 parade.

Tell us about your role at Chelsea?

As the Chair of Chelsea Pride and Fan Advisory to the Board, I am deeply committed to fostering inclusivity and community engagement. Additionally, I work closely with both the Foundation and the Club on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives “the No to Hate campaign”, ensuring that our environment is welcoming and supportive for all.

It must be a busy time for you.  What plans do Chelsea have for Pride 2024?

As in the past few years, the club is standing by us and supporting our participation in the London Pride Parade on Saturday, 29th June. We will have a float, and members of Chelsea Pride will be joined by club staff who wish to support us on the day. This time of year highlights the collaborative work we do together.

What is important to you about Pride month and how will you be celebrating? 

Pride Month is a time of reflection, celebration, and, most importantly, authenticity. For me, celebrating Pride means embracing and expressing my true self without fear or hesitation. It’s about honouring the journey of self-discovery and the courage it takes to live openly.

Being my authentic self means acknowledging my identity with pride and joy. It’s about shedding any masks I may have worn and standing tall in who I am. This authenticity extends beyond just my personal life; it influences my interactions, my work, and my advocacy. By being genuine, I hope to inspire others to embrace their true selves as well.

During Pride, I celebrate by connecting with my community, sharing my story, and listening to the stories of others. Each story is a testament to resilience and the power of authenticity. Whether it’s through participating in parades, engaging in online discussions, or simply spending time with loved ones who support me, each moment is a celebration of who we are.

Living authentically also means advocating for those who still face challenges in expressing their true selves. It’s about standing in solidarity with them, amplifying their voices, and working towards a world where everyone can live openly and proudly.

Pride is not just a month-long event; it’s a lifelong journey. By being my authentic self every day, I contribute to the spirit of Pride and help pave the way for a more inclusive and accepting society. This Pride Month, I encourage everyone to celebrate by being their true selves and embracing the beautiful diversity that makes our community strong.

What will you be doing over Pride weekend?  

I will be proudly representing Chelsea Pride at Football Pride 2024 as it comes to London on Friday, 28 June— I wouldn’t want to miss out on being a part of this incredible event! Following the success of last year’s celebration in Manchester, Football v Homophobia is bringing Football Pride to Stamford Bridge, hosted by our own Chelsea Foundation, on the eve of the annual Pride in London parade, where I will proudly lead our 100 strong Chelsea Pride participance to take part in the parade.  

I would love to see a sell out for this all-day celebration of LGBTQ+ football culture, filled with engaging activities, thought-provoking conversations, and valuable networking opportunities. This event offers a unique platform for visibility, celebration, and a powerful sense of community for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies across all facets of the game.

Pride is now over 50 years old.  How have you seen it develop over the years you’ve been involved? 

Reflecting on 30 Years of London Prides.

Pride is now over 50 years old, and reflecting on its evolution, I am filled with awe at the progress made over the past decades. This year marks my 30th anniversary of participating in London Prides, and the journey has been nothing short of transformative.

When I first became involved, Pride was primarily a protest, a powerful demonstration demanding recognition, rights, and respect for the LGBTQ+ community. The atmosphere was one of defiance and resilience, as we marched to make our voices heard in a society that often sought to silence us.

Over the years, I have witnessed Pride grow from these grassroots protests into a vibrant and inclusive celebration. The progress has been remarkable. What started as a bold statement for equality has blossomed into a diverse festival that celebrates our community’s achievements and embraces allies from all walks of life.

One of the most significant changes I’ve observed is the increased visibility and acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in mainstream society. Pride events have become more family-friendly, and it’s heartening to see people of all ages and backgrounds joining the celebrations. Corporate sponsorship and support from prominent organizations, including football clubs like Chelsea FC, have also grown, reflecting a broader societal shift towards inclusivity.

In the early days, our focus was on decriminalization and fighting for basic human rights. Today, while the struggle for equality continues, we also celebrate the cultural contributions and successes of LGBTQ+ people. Pride has become a platform for art, music, and creativity, showcasing the rich diversity within our community.

Moreover, Pride has expanded its reach globally. It’s inspiring to see how our movement has influenced and supported LGBTQ+ rights in countries where acceptance is still a distant dream. The solidarity and shared purpose that Pride fosters across borders is a testament to its enduring power.

As I celebrate my 30th London Pride, I am proud of how far we’ve come and mindful of the journey ahead. Pride remains a beacon of hope, a reminder of our resilience, and a call to action for the ongoing fight for equality. Here’s to the next 30 years of progress, visibility, and celebration.

The two main themes of Gay Pride And No Prejudice are freedom of sexuality and women’s equality.  How do you feel attitudes have changed in these areas?

Freedom of Sexuality.

Attitudes towards freedom of sexuality have transformed remarkably. When I first engaged with Pride, there was a pervasive stigma surrounding LGBTQ+ identities. Many individuals lived in fear of discrimination, ostracism, and even violence. Coming out was a courageous act that often-involved considerable personal risk.

Today, there is a much greater acceptance and understanding of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Legal advancements, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage in many countries, anti-discrimination laws, and the increasing visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals in media and public life, have played pivotal roles in this shift. Public opinion has gradually moved towards recognizing and respecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people to love who they choose and express their identities freely.

However, despite this progress, challenges remain. There are still regions where LGBTQ+ rights are severely restricted, and prejudice persists in various forms. Pride continues to be essential in advocating for these rights and fostering an environment where everyone can live authentically without fear.

Women’s Equality

Similarly, attitudes towards women’s equality have evolved significantly. In the past, women faced considerable barriers in many areas of life, from the workplace to personal freedoms. The fight for gender equality has been a long and arduous journey, marked by landmark achievements such as women’s suffrage, reproductive rights, and advances in workplace equality.

In recent years, movements like #MeToo have brought renewed focus to issues of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, prompting societal introspection and change. There is now a broader recognition of the importance of gender equality and the need to dismantle patriarchal structures that perpetuate inequality.

Despite these advances, women’s equality is still an ongoing struggle. Gender pay gaps, underrepresentation in leadership roles, and societal expectations continue to pose significant challenges. The intersectionality of gender with other identities, such as race and sexuality, also highlights the complex nature of achieving true equality.

In Conclusion.

Overall, attitudes towards freedom of sexuality and women’s equality have improved significantly, reflecting a more inclusive and understanding society. Yet, both areas require continuous effort and advocacy. Celebrations like Pride and movements for gender equality are vital in maintaining momentum, raising awareness, and driving further progress. As we look to the future, it is crucial to remain vigilant and committed to these causes, ensuring that the strides we’ve made are preserved and built upon for generations to come.

It feels like there has been much progress, particularly in recent years and the challenges faced by the characters in the play are hopefully no longer in existence (in some countries) but where do you feel there is more to be done?

While significant progress has been made in recent years, particularly in some countries, it’s essential to acknowledge that challenges persist, and there is still much work to be done. Despite advancements in LGBTQ+ rights and women’s equality, systemic discrimination, prejudice, and inequality continue to affect individuals worldwide. Here are some areas where I believe there is still more to be done:

1. **Global LGBTQ+ Rights:** In many parts of the world, LGBTQ+ individuals still face persecution, discrimination, and violence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. In some countries, homosexuality remains criminalized, and LGBTQ+ people live in fear of persecution or imprisonment. There is a need for continued advocacy and pressure on governments to ensure the protection and recognition of LGBTQ+ rights worldwide.

2. **Transgender Rights:** Transgender individuals, in particular, face significant challenges, including discrimination in healthcare, employment, and education. Transphobia and violence against transgender people remain pervasive, with alarming rates of hate crimes and murders reported globally. More efforts are needed to ensure legal protections, access to healthcare, and social acceptance for transgender individuals.

3. **Intersectionality:** The intersectionality of identities, such as race, ethnicity, disability, and socioeconomic status, adds layers of complexity to issues of discrimination and inequality. Marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ people of colour, disabled individuals, and those from low-income backgrounds, often face compounded discrimination and barriers to access resources and opportunities. Addressing intersectional discrimination requires a more nuanced and inclusive approach to advocacy and policy-making.

4. **Women’s Rights:** Despite significant progress, gender inequality persists in various forms, including the gender pay gap, underrepresentation in leadership roles, and violence against women. Intersectional feminism is essential in addressing the unique challenges faced by women of different backgrounds and identities, including women of colour, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities.

5. **Youth and Education:** LGBTQ+ youth continue to face bullying, harassment, and discrimination in schools and communities. Providing inclusive education and support services for LGBTQ+ youth, including comprehensive sex education and mental health resources, is crucial in creating safe and supportive environments where all young people can thrive.

6. **Healthcare Access:** LGBTQ+ individuals often face barriers to accessing affirming and inclusive healthcare, including discrimination from healthcare providers and lack of access to gender-affirming care. Ensuring equitable access to healthcare services and training healthcare providers on LGBTQ+ cultural competency is essential for improving health outcomes and addressing disparities within the community.

7. **Representation and Media:** While there has been increased LGBTQ+ representation in media and entertainment, stereotypes and misrepresentation still abound. More diverse and authentic representation of LGBTQ+ people, particularly those from marginalized communities, is needed to challenge stereotypes and promote understanding and acceptance.

In conclusion, while progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to achieve full equality and inclusion for LGBTQ+ individuals and women worldwide. It requires ongoing advocacy, education, and allyship to address the systemic barriers and discrimination that continue to affect marginalized communities.

Elizaeth Bennet refused to accept the oppressive rules set out for women at that time.  How do you, your colleagues and fans at Chelsea challenge attitudes?

Elizabeth Bennet’s refusal to accept oppressive societal norms serves as a timeless example of courage and resilience in the face of injustice. Similarly, at Chelsea Football Club, we strive to challenge attitudes and foster inclusivity both on and off the pitch.

As colleagues and fans of Chelsea, we challenge attitudes by promoting a culture of diversity, equality, and respect within the club and the broader football community. Here are some ways we actively work towards these goals:

1. **Promoting Inclusivity:** We believe that football is for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, or background. Through initiatives like Chelsea Pride and our anti-discrimination campaigns, we create inclusive spaces where all fans feel welcome and valued.

2. **Combatting Discrimination:** We actively challenge discrimination and prejudice in all its forms, whether it’s racism, homophobia, sexism, or any other form of bigotry. Our zero-tolerance approach ensures that discriminatory behaviour is not tolerated within our club or among our fanbase.

3. **Educating and Raising Awareness:** We understand the importance of education in challenging attitudes and promoting understanding. Through workshops, training programs, and awareness campaigns, we educate our staff, players, and fans on issues related to diversity, equality, and inclusion.

4. **Leading by Example:** As a prominent football club, we recognize our responsibility to lead by example and advocate for positive change within the sport. Whether it’s through our community outreach programs, charitable initiatives, or public statements, we use our platform to champion social justice and equality.

5. **Listening and Amplifying Voices:** We believe in the power of listening to and amplifying marginalized voices within our community. By actively seeking input from diverse perspectives and centring the experiences of underrepresented groups, we ensure that our actions are inclusive and representative of all our fans.

6. **Supporting Women’s Football:** We are committed to advancing women’s football and challenging stereotypes about women’s sports. Through investment, promotion, and support for women’s teams and players, we strive to create equal opportunities and recognition for women in football.

In summary, just as Elizabeth Bennet challenged oppressive norms in her time, we at Chelsea Pride and with Chelsea Football Club challenge attitudes and work towards a more inclusive and equitable future for all. By promoting diversity, equality, and respect, both on and off the pitch, we continue to drive positive change within the football community and beyond.

We’d like to congratulate Tracy on achieving 30 years of participation Pride and thank her for giving such an in-depth and meaningful interview, particularly at such a busy time. 

We wish her, all her colleagues and the fans of Chelsea FC the very best of luck with both the Football Pride event and the London Pride Chelsea FC bus at Pride 2024. 

Click here for more information about Gay Pride And No Prejudice at the Union Theatre between 8th October and 2nd November.

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