The Ruby Demons, Melbourne Football Club's official LGBTIQ Supporter Group, are working hard to ensure that anyone who might not have felt welcome in the past, now knows that the game and the club welcome them.
We sat down with Ruby Demons members, Angus and Alejandro, to hear their story of how their passion for footy has come alive through this supportive and inclusive group.
A Love for Melbourne Football Club
When and why did you begin supporting MFC?
I moved to Melbourne in 1994. Although I was from Adelaide, a football town, I had little interest in football growing up. But Melbourne was different, football culture was all-pervasive and I felt like part of being a Melburnian was picking a team. What led me to the Melbourne Football Club, more than anything else, was David Schwarz's spectacular heroics in the 1994 finals series.
I really only took an interest in footy once I reached adulthood! I was never really into sports, nor AFL, during my childhood. I guess I was motivated to start familiarising myself with AFL, after seeing how much of my classmates were just so into it. My mother is also an MFC supporter. It was on one day when I borrowed her MFC scarf to wear to school, like all the other AFL student followers did, where I realised I had a genuine interest in Melbourne. This was also the first day I told others that I go for Melbourne. By the time I turned 21, the next big step in adulthood, I told myself, “Time to get into it!”
What is your favourite memory of the Demons?
Our amazing comeback in 2000 in the qualifying final against Carlton. I was sitting behind the goals we were kicking towards in the final quarter. One of those rare days when you end up hugging complete strangers!
The Ruby Demons
How did the Ruby Demons form?
We formed after our two co-founders, Deb and Nathan, met playing AFL 9s. They got talking and the rest is history!
What is the mission of the Ruby Demons Group?
We believe footy is for everyone! These are our very words which we live by. Our goal is to provide an inclusive and friendly environment for LGBTIQ people who support MFC. We are a growing group who continues to present ourselves at each game and spread invites out to as many MFC fans as possible. As our slogan states, any MFC fan or friend can join.
How did you get involved and what does it mean to you?
I happened to hear the Ruby Demons mentioned on a podcast, shortly after Nathan and Deb started the group. I got in touch with them and offered my help. It means a lot to me to feel truly included in the club I've loved for over 20 years. My favourite thing about being part of the Ruby Demons is meeting LGBTIQ people who are new to football, who might not have felt welcome in the past, but now know that the game and the club welcome them.
Firstly, it was my eagerness to get involved in the AFL, as well as my passions for volunteering with a group. Secondly, I have to give thanks to a very good friend of mine, who introduced me to Midsumma Carnival and the world of Melbourne’s queer industries. This also happened when I was only just coming out of my closet.
I eventually got to meet the Ruby Demons at the 2017 Midsumma Carnival. The Ruby Demons gives me a huge opportunity to enjoy attending both AFL and AFLW games with other people, and for which I, as a gay Melbournian, can appreciate the respect and friendliness of others.
It provides me the opportunity to confidently participate in discussions and at certain events. I learn more about respecting others and working in a team environment. I also have the privilege to represent the Ruby Demons at various functions and events with the AFL Pride Collective and also the Pride Cup.
Who can join the Ruby Demons?
Anyone who supports the Melbourne Football Club or is curious about football. We welcome LGBTIQ people, friends and allies — you don't have to pass an entrance exam!
Sharing Australian Football with the World
Come party with the Ruby Demons!