WITH the AFL shifting the focus back onto clubs to take diversity and inclusion initiatives forward in the game at last weekend’s Pride Cup, the league’s only affiliated LGBTI supporters group is doing its bit for LGBTI visibility, in black and white and hot pink.

The Pink Magpies are a supporters group for Collingwood Football Club made up of LGBTI people and their friends and families. The group has been meeting socially and attending matches together since it was founded in 2001, with members united by their passion for the club.

At matches members wear t-shirts emblazoned with their modified Collingwood logo, proudly displaying the magpie against a hot pink background.

When asked by the Star Observer why LGBTI people would join a group like the Pink Magpies, secretary Ian Bell answered: “The first one is that we barrack for Collingwood. That’s the purpose of the group. We just happen to be poofters and dykes and family of — both my children are members.”

Bell said the breadth of Collingwood’s membership — the highest of any club in the AFL — meant it was an inclusive community. He suggested the stereotype of the mad Collingwood supporter made a group like the Pink Magpies a natural fit.

Years after its inception, the group had been on hiatus for some time until Collingwood’s Grand Final win in 2010 against St Kilda — famously replayed after an initial tied result — brought a surge of interest to the Pink Magpies. It was even endorsed by high-profile club president Eddie McGuire.

At the AFL-supported Pride Cup in Yarra Glen last weekend, the league’s operations manager Mark Evans said the AFL would support clubs at the highest level of the game who wanted to host a match in support of inclusion and diversity around sexual and gender diversity.

“I’m sure there have been discussions already at clubs, and from the AFL’s perspective, when they’re ready to take on this issue, so are we. We need a couple of clubs to be bold enough to put a match together like this,” Evans said.

Bell said while the Pink Magpies would welcome Collingwood’s participation in such a match, the Pink Magpies wouldn’t be actively lobbying the club to sponsor an event like the Pride Cup.

“It’s not our job. Our job is to go to the footy. But certainly acceptance is the principle. Inclusion is the principle,” Bell argued.

“We barrack for Collingwood, that’s why we get together. But obviously our existence is political, really. It’s a political reality if we march in Pride March we’re making a statement.”

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