By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., SDL (He/Him)
The 2022 World Cup is well documented to be one of the most corrupt and oppressive worldwide sporting events in history. With the hosts, the theocratic nation of Qatar, well known for using slave labor to build World Cup stadiums along with their abuse and criminalization of women and LGBTQ+ people. These archaic policies have brought worldwide condemnation for FIFA’s insistence on hosting the World Cup in Qatar from human rights activists and sports organizations worldwide, who are protesting and speaking out in various ways.
Recently, the first person from Qatar to publicly come out as gay Dr. Nas Mohamed, did so in response to the World Cup to highlight the presence and awareness of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar and the oppression they face. Forced to flee his home over safety concerns. Dr. Mohamd has turned his visibility into activism by launching the Proud Maroons, Qatar’s first LGBTQ+ football fan club to support the Qatar national team.
Officially billed as “the national football supporters group that Qatar never wanted”, the fan group raises awareness and support for the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar as well as a platform to help raise money and support Dr. Mohamed’s non-profit organization, The Alwan Foundation, which aims to advance LGBTQ+ rights in the Middle East and in the Gulf region.
WE are the @proudmaroons.
Qatar’s first LGBTQ+ supporters club, made up of LGBTQ+ fans and allies from everywhere around the world—except Qatar.
— Proud Maroons (@proudmaroons) November 15, 2022
“The persecution and suffering of the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar is at risk of being sportswashed,” says Dr Mohamed. “The Proud Maroons will help highlight the difference between what is extended now to the global LGBTQ+ community versus what the local community lives every day.”
The goal of the Proud Maroons is to encourage LGBTQ+ and allied people all over the world to become members of the Proud Maroons and to share their “love and sense of pride on social media” with the hashtag #ProudMaroons. In addition, Proud Maroons merchandise is available to help bring visibility to the Qatari LGBTQ+ community (available at www.proudmaroons.com with all proveeds going to the The Alwan Foundation which will continue their important work well after the World Cup ends.
You can also donate directly to The Alwan Foundation here at https://www.gofundme.com/f/Alwan-foundation
Photo Credit: Proud Maroons