How A Supporters Group Used Its Platform For Inclusion

Y'all Means All

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Simple and authentic. Nicole Arias, one of the moderators of The Plastics, a national supporters group focused on acceptance and inclusion, wasn’t sure exactly what else the Plastics’ Pride month project should be. But she knew it should be uncomplicated and sincere.

The result was a Twitter thread, a chain linking together supporters groups all over the country, with messages of support and inclusivity for the LGBTQ population in their own communities. 

“I wanted to use our platform to give supporters groups an opportunity to reach directly out to the people in the LGBTQ community, so they can feel like it’s not just performative allyship, people actually care about making this environment a lot more inclusive so everybody feels welcome,” Arias said.

The effort and attention around Pride Month and Pride movements has swelled within the soccer world in recent years. Limited edition Pride kits and scarves are released by clubs and SGs, Pride Night is commonly found on most club schedules during June, and almost every Twitter avatar has a new rainbow sheen to it during the month. But Arias wanted to find another method to connect directly with the LGBTQ community within the soccer world. 

“There’s always so much discourse about Corporate Pride and performative allyship, and it kind of came to me, we always talk about Pride, and teams putting out all of this stuff, but LGBTQ fans not actually feeling like these groups care about them,” Arias said. “So, I had this idea pop into my mind around, what if we just created a master Twitter thread of supporters, just getting as many supporter groups as we could, telling us what inclusion means to them, and how they support or what they do to support the LGBTQ community.”

Arias and the other Plastics moderators put out the call in May for interested SGs and delivered the details via DM. They collected the necessary information, messages, and photos, then published the thread on June 1st. 

More than 26 supporters groups or collectives are linked together, from Vancouver to LA to Richmond to Hartford to Atlanta, all spreading out the same sentiment, ‘Everyone is welcome with us.’ 

The reaction to the project has been overwhelmingly positive, with more than 300 total engagements.

“Honestly, I’ve been a little overwhelmed,” Arias said. “We’re still getting a ton of notifications from it, and I’m honestly just overwhelmed with happiness. I definitely cried a couple times. Going through and reading a lot of them, and posting a lot of them. Finally just seeing that, people do care, and people care about being inclusive, it was very heartwarming.”

The power of the project is in its simplicity and directness, something that was crucial to Arias to leverage.

“I think the reason it’s doing so well is because is because it filled this missing niche,” she said. “We’re so used to Corporate Pride and just generic slogans. I think everyone is just so used to these phrases feeling very empty. So to really put on display that supporters actually do care, to give the power back to supporters groups and let them speak, and say, we actually do care, and we’re committed to making sure that you feel safe is important.” 

The Plastics have plans to drop another thread later in the month, for groups who missed the submission deadline the first time around, or who have been inspired in the time since. Arias knows that a sea change won’t occur just from a few tweets, but she’s hopeful that this is a start. 

“I’m hoping that this thread can start the process for a lot of SGs on how to be better, more inclusive, more supportive supporter groups,” she said.