Nestled in the Southeast corner of CenturyLink Field is a collection of supporters with a man in a gorilla suit amongst them, at least most of the time.Gorilla FC describes itself as anantifa group (against racism, sexism, homophobia), but they are unique in more ways than just that.
From day one they’ve given back to the Sounders community. “That's the foundation that brings us together,” notes Samuel Chesneau, three year member and part of their Media Affinity Group. “All of our events and activities have a foundation of giving back to the community. We use our passion for the Sounders to give back.”
Those efforts include having a match day charity partner that gets two seats to the game and receives funds from that days efforts. Leading up to the Leg Two playoff loss to the Galaxy it was Movember. Their efforts go far and wide. They’ve helped the needy in Haiti as well as those just down the street here in Seattle.
Gorilla does lesstifo than their neighbors just to the West. They admit that their support as a whole is just different. “This is Gorilla FC and we actually have a gorilla who hangs out with us from time to time,” says Ron Lamb, another member of the Media Affinity Group. “He tends to be pretty popular. It's something that's just quirky and fun. That could be a word you use to describe Gorilla FC - quirky. We're proud of that.”
That man, or woman, who knows, in the gorilla suit may be their public identity, but the group is much more than that. Every conversation, every statement from the leadership is about inclusion, charity and community.
Asked about the origins of the group Cameron Collins, Media Affinity member, explains, “Historically it had a political aspect to it. For some members that's still key, but as a general message it has been toned down a bit. Some people are turned off by it, but we're not a politically active group in our values. It's still anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobia based off theantifa St. Pauli group's anti-fascist stance.”
From that it grows into what it means to him to be a Sounder. “For me it's bigger than a soccer team. I love the game, but it's part of our civic pride. For me the city of Seattle is synonymous with Seattle Sounders all over the world now, part of being civic-minded is giving back to your community.”
That identity of community, the welcoming nature it’s a part of Seattle and the Sounders.
“It's a big salad where everyone can be themselves and that's OK. We're all part of this kinetic force where we are here rooting for the rave green. We can focus on these things that we have in common,” says Chesneau.
There are many ways you can choose to be a part of the Sounders FC experience. For the members of Gorilla FC they know theirs is unique and willingly shared.