Charlton Athletic are to become one of the first professional football clubs to participate in Pride in London.
120 people linked to CACT, the club and associated groups will join a Charlton-themed float at this year’s Pride in London parade on Saturday, July 7th. Up to now, football teams have been represented in the march by their fan groups.
CACT Invicta FC, the first LGBTQI+ friendly football team affiliated to a professional club’s community trust, will join Charlton’s LGBTQI+ supporters’ group, the Proud Valiants, at the procession in Central London, which first took place in 1972.
Participation in the event will celebrate CACT Invicta winning the London Unity League title in their first season affiliated to Charlton, and also CACT’s wider commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
CACT Invicta FC said: “We are just blown away that we can be involved in the first ever Pride in London march that Charlton Athletic have ever been a part of. As the first ever LGBTQI+ friendly football club to be formally affiliated to a professional club’s community trust, we get to show the whole of London on July 7th that CACT reaches out to so many people across the South East. The club is one big family and side by side we support one another – a sign of unity.
“It’s a huge step for the LGBTQI+ community and football as a whole, it allows us to stand united by breaking down barriers and shaking off stereotypes. It’s allowing the next generation within the LGBTQI+ community to believe in football and that football is a sport for all that nobody should ever feel excluded from.
“We are making history and we are delighted to be the start of that.”
Rob Harris, Proud Valiants’ Chair, said: “Charlton Athletic and CACT have become champions in the fight against homophobia. We are very proud to be taking part in this event and celebrating not only with CACT Invicta but the whole Charlton Family. To make such a visible statement is historic and I hope that anybody in the crowd who has doubts about their sexuality or feels uneasy going to watch football as they fear the atmosphere may realise that football is a sport for all and that Charlton will not accept any form of prejudice.
“Pride tops off an amazing season of events that the Proud Valiants have worked on with the club, CACT and CACT Invicta including a dedicated first-team match in February, the third Charlton v Homophobia Tournament on May 22nd and an upcoming conference for other professional clubs around homophobia and setting up supporter groups. All this goes to show how we all here at Charlton are setting the bar for all teams up and down the country.”
Charlton were recently named EFL London Checkatrade Community Club of the Year, with CACT Invicta being the club’s showcase project.
Dr Michael Seeraj, CACT’s Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, said: “This has been a remarkable first season for CACT Invicta, not only winning the London Unity League, but also being commended by the EFL, as part of CACT’s award for winning this season’s EFL London Community Club of the Year. We are committed to tackling discrimination and promoting inclusion, and are extremely proud that CACT Invicta now form an integral part of our wider equality programme. Pride in London will be a fitting finale to what has been a truly incredible year.”