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City Supports Pride: Canal Street Blues interview

City Supports Pride: Canal Street Blues interview
The General Secretary of Manchester City’s Official Supporters Club hailed the relationship between the Club and the LGBTQ+ community as this weekend’s Pride celebrations began with the annual raising of the Pride flag at the Etihad Stadium.

Kevin Parker says City’s continued support for Canal Street Blues, the LGBTQ+ branch of the Official Supporters Club, is a source of immense pride for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other sexual/gender minority fans.

Parker has been the Official Supporters Club General Secretary for more than 20 years and a member of Canal Street Blues since its inception in 2014.

The rainbow flag was raised on Thursday ahead of Manchester Pride Weekend, which this year will be celebrated virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It means one of the biggest cultural events in the city’s calendar will be a considerably more low key affair and the fact that City are still honouring the celebrations is something Parker says is hugely appreciated by fans within the LGBTQ+ community.

“We could not ask for any more help from the football club,” he said. “They have been fantastic with us.

“Year on year we can see the growth in the number of people joining Canal Street Blues. Pride itself and what the Club do to help raises the profile and increases our membership.

“The most significant part of that has been the raising of the flag year after year. The fact they have done that again, when there is no Pride, shows we are not forgotten about and that the Club remembers that Pride is an important time for the LGBTQ+ community in Manchester.

“The Club deserve great credit for embracing us as part of their community. They have never stood back in terms of their support.”

With their base at Bar Pop in Manchester, Canal Street Blues have more than 70 members worldwide and welcome all City supporters, whether members of the LGBTQ+ community or not.

Chairman David Alvarado believes it is important the branch is inclusive to everyone and whilst there is disappointment they can’t come together at Pride this year, he has praised the Club for keeping the spirit of the event alive.

“I am sure the atmosphere will still be here in Manchester and it was nice that City raised the flag,” he added.

“The Pride event itself is important, but the main thing is the spirit and acknowledgement.

“Our relationship with the Club is incredible. Last year we had a fantastic float and were giving out tickets to the first professional women’s derby match.

“It is a brilliant group and we’re not just for the LGBTQ+ community. The point of Pride is being open and visible.

“We’re all about inclusivity and everybody is welcome.”

To find out where your nearest Official Supporters Club branch is, or, to find out how you can set one up, please visit: www.mancity.com/supporters-clubs

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