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Ajax - Feyenoord

Growing up in the Rotterdam area, I was closeted as an ajacied before I was closeted as a queer person. I was living in a city full of boys and men that will literally beat you up for cheering on the team in the white-red-white jerseys instead of just red-white. But being the Ajax supporter that my father taught me to be (Sundays are for church and then Ajax), it felt like my “Ajaxness” was part of my identity. It wasn’t much of a choice, it was just how it was. My father and I would spend hours talking about the beauty of Maxwell’s rushes, Sneijder’s two footed technique and Chivu’s unbridled passion. My father made it clear: Ajax was the club of artists. The European underdog that would surprise and show off entertaining, daring football. Supporting Ajax was the right thing to do.

I remember one day taking the train to The Hague from Schiedam Centrum with my mother (I must have been around 10 years old), naively wearing a white tank top with a big Ajax logo on my chest. The train was crammed with Feyenoord fans, as Feyenoord was playing against ADO Den Haag that same afternoon. I can still hear the fear in my mother’s voice, as she dealt with the constant flow of aggressive remarks from (mostly) men all around us, while we were standing together in the corner of that train carriage. She held me close, covering the Ajax logo from behind me with her hands. I remember as a teenager all those times I unexpectedly passed by a big group of loud Feyenoord fans in the city center of Rotterdam, nervously checking myself and making sure that I wasn’t visibly an Ajacied, even though I would never leave the house visibly an Ajacied – I had learned my lesson. I remember I would only wear my precious Ajax shirt on our vacations in the south of France, because that was the only place where I felt safe.

In a way, of course, this was the perfect training for the years to come, where I would do all of those exact same things around my queerness. Hide it, anticipate any risky situation, check myself, pretend, switch codes, be extra cautious around groups of men. This time around, though, I would do it all by myself, there was no one to help me cover my Ajax logo.

Fast forward to when I went to see Ajax a few years ago, with my boyfriend. There we were, in the Amsterdam ArenA, cheering on the same team as everyone around us. I remember how we wouldn’t hold each other’s hands, wouldn’t kiss, wouldn’t be a couple for 90 minutes “straight”. I remember how we pretended to be okay with that. I remember how strange it felt, openly cheering on my Ajax, surrounded by thousands of Ajax supporters, and still feeling like "the Others". 

Oh, how not only Maxwell’s rushes, but also the way his beautiful, wavy hair moved during those rushes would fascinate me. I was just as speechless at Chivu’s free kick against Vitesse, as I was at his six pack in that photo I “ran into” online (thank you, Google). In my eyes, the beauty and art of soccer are so evident. That perfectly timed sliding from Mazraoui against Real Madrid, that look of hyper focus in Schöne’s eyes before he crowned the victory with that free kick, that one move from Frenkie against Modric. Those beautiful thighs and (let’s just say it) asses in those white, slightly see-through shorts, the way they touch and practically assault each other in the penalty area during a free kick, the way they touch and kiss each other after a goal. The fantasy of what might happen in the dressing room after the game, as they ecstatically celebrate their victory naked, sweaty and wet in the showers. That perfect long distance pass from Ziyech to Tagliafico against Bayern, the adrenaline, the artistry, the muscles, the sweat, the red and white adidas stripes...

To quote poet Alok Vaid-Menon:


“Nothing is simple, flat, or one dimensional. Let alone a whole ass human.

I wonder if the reason we stay attached to a singular self, is because

we worry that we won’t be understood if we declare our multitudes? [...]

What I ask for is your curiosity.

Why do you wear what you wear?

Why don’t you wear other things?

What made you feel like you could only be one thing?

Are there forms of love and expansion you haven’t allowed yourself to experience yet? Why?”

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