The following is a post by Rebecca Liddle Blair.
Home. Church. Family.
We throw these words around between us at Providence Park.
In line culture for our first match of the season, I heard it over and over again.
We’re finally home.
We’re back at church.
So good to see my family again.
Embracing fellow fans and sharing cupcakes, we danced and talked with electricity crackling in our voices. Joking with traveling LAFC supporters passing by and trading stickers and dinner recommendations, we extend our community means even further. “Thank you for traveling,” we say and mean it to our so-called rivals as they move along, pausing our sidewalk games to wave goodbye into the night. Despite our differences, we share a love of the game that transcends 90+ minutes, and we join together when things are bigger than our club, our city.
I don’t quite know how to explain how much it means to me that this community is one of charity and kindness — of acceptance and support for those who are marginalized or need a hand. Being able to pitch in and help others regularly with the supporters groups has returned to me a sense of genuine kindness I thought I had lost along the way. That feeling most certainly encouraged and guided me to move into non-profit work with the queer elder community, those who have endured persecution upon persecution only to trust me on sight and welcome me with open arms and homemade pudding.
As someone who hasn’t really ever felt a part of something, I have struggled to find a sense of home, a belief in church, and what it means to be family. Through this sport and this place and these people, I have started to understand those comforts of the heart that have always been for other people. It’s no surprise, really. Our halls are filled with support and encouragement for our club and our community, giving strength to those who are unsure where they may land.
You are welcome here.
You are safe.
You are protected.
This is what the three arrows mean.
This is what it signifies to someone who is different.
We say we stand together here.
When it matters.
It matters now.