The Liverpool legend took up the role as the symbolic ‘boss’ of the team as they unveiled the largest inflatable ever used at a Pride Parade in the UK to call to attention the lack of visibility for LGBTQ players.
Right now there are no openly gay or bisexual players in the Premier League.
But leading the gigantic Game Changer – an unmissable balloon looming higher than a two-story house and the length of double-decker bus, held by Proud United’s volunteer teammates – Souness joined as an ally for those who are already actively changing the game in the non-professional ranks.
Souness* fronted the float in association with Paddy Power, an official partner of Brighton Pride for the second year running, as part of their Come Out and Play campaign
Speaking at this morning’s event he revealed why he felt moved to get involved with the Paddy Power activation at Brighton & Hove Pride: “Society has made such giant strides generally in terms of LGBTQ, that as football people we’ve got to ask why does the issue of homophobia persist within our community and the professional game and challenge that. I’m here today as an ally and to bring attention to members of the LGBT community in the amateur game who are leading the charge in that conversation.”
Standing at 7 meters tall and 14 meters long, it can’t be ignored.
The Game Changer is based on an image of a footballer mid-stride.
Taking two hours to inflate, it required enough helium to fill 7,000 balloons, and The Game Changer served as the grand finale to this year’s parade, where tens of thousands of people lined streets of Brighton and Hove Pride parade this afternoon.
“Back in the late 1980’s Graeme Souness was at the height of his Rangers revolution and ‘I Should Be So Lucky’, by Kylie Minogue was No.1 in the charts. Now for the first time ever, those two powerful forces – a singer from Down Under, and a one-time underdog – are both at Brighton Pride to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community in their own respective way. Thankfully Souness isn’t the one sporting the gold hotpants!” a spokesperson for Paddy Power said.
European Cup hero Souness is no stranger to championing diversity in football, having signed first black player (Mark Walters, 1987) to play for Rangers and the first Catholic (Mo Johnston) to the club exactly 20 years ago almost to the day.
*Graeme Souness is donating 100% of his entire fee for this project to charity Debra, a charity for which he is Vice President.