ESSENDON Football Club have launched an LGBTI supporters group called the Purple Bombers, following in the footsteps of Collingwood’s long-standing Pink Magpies.

“[We want] to create a place not only here at Essendon but at the footy that everyone is welcome and everyone is equal,” said Essendon player Brendon Goddard, who launched the Purple Bombers this morning alongside its founding member, Jason Tuazon-McCheyne.

Tuazon-McCheyne, who also launched the LGBTI-focused Australian Equality Party earlier this year, has spearheaded the initiative.

“Being a member for 30 years and a player sponsor for quite a long time, it’s really important that when I take my husband and my son to the football I don’t have to hear discriminatory words or offensive words from the audience, and I can feel safe and valued,” Tuazon-McCheyne said.

Both Goddard and Tuazon-McCheyne said they looked forward to a possible “pride round” in the AFL season, officially recognising LGBTI people. They conceded such an event could still be a way off, and would require the firm backing of the league.

While the AFL has indicated support for an elite-level “pride cup” event during the premiership season, there has been no indication of plans for a pride round.

Essendon launched a program called EFC Respect earlier this year, encouraging respect and diversity within the community and around the club. The program was a response to the public racial vilification last year of Indigenous player and Australian of the Year Adam Goodes by a fan during a match.

The Purple Bombers will use a modified Essendon logo, with the iconic “bomber” plane on a purple background (main image above).

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