Rowdy, Proud and Out

On any given Atlanta United matchday you’ll find a crowd gathered at Lot 17.

The energy that fills Mercedes-Benz Stadium at kickoff finds its origin there. So does the rhythm and camaraderie that unites the supporters before they march over to the gates, providing the musical backdrop to a sacred day for the club.

Lot 17 is where you’ll find Marianna Thomas, Tisha Rein and Amanda Brandino, kitted out—perhaps with a beverage in hand—ahead of almost every home match.

Immediately, you can tell that's exactly what it feels like—home.

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They didn’t meet through Atlanta United. In fact, when asked how they met, they turned to each other and just laughed.

“Dating apps,” Marianna said. “I feel like it’s the way of the world of meeting people now.”

By that time, they'd all found Atlanta United on their own. But since then, it's been an experience that they've happily shared together as members of Resurgence, one of the club's supporters' groups that have been around since Day 1.

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The sound of the drums first drew Marianna in.

“I only went to one game the first season, but saw the supporters from afar and thought that looked like a lot of fun,” she said. “Later that season, when they played at Kennesaw State’s stadium, I happened to get a cheap ticket where the supporters section sat. And the rest is history.”

Marianna, who grew up playing percussion, now holds down one of the big bass drums that she heard that day five years ago. The venue she plays at now is much larger than Kennesaw State, but the sound can still be heard on the other end of the pitch.

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The spirit of the club is on full display whenever the 5-Stripes are getting ready to take the field, and once you're in it, it compels you to jump in.

"When I came to a game, I just took one of her mallets and started playing," Amanda explained.

Like Marianna, she also grew up playing percussion. Now, she's preparing for tryouts to roll around for next season.

The way that Marianna, Amanda and Tisha describe Resurgence, is a space to come as you are and be received with open arms. It's a tight circle, but one that's open to just about anybody, regardless of whether it's the music, mutual friends, or the game of "Liquor Ball" that brings you in.

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For Tisha, it was the very first home match in Atlanta United history that put the team on her radar, but not for the matchday experience necessarily.

As a newcomer to Atlanta, the club’s mandate was not only to bring soccer to anyone and everyone who wanted to be a part of it, but also to reflect the diverse and open community that existed in the city long before its establishment.

At that very first match, when a homophobic chant was heard in the stadium, the club met the issue head on, firmly condemning any hateful behavior and making a clear declaration early on that it would be a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community.

"That really impressed me," she said. "So I started coming to games, and I fell in love with it."

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Beyond matchdays, Atlanta Pride has been one of the biggest gatherings between the club and supporters.

Much like the gatherings at Lot 17, Amanda said "Pride is a place to celebrate the community and be out and be happy."

For the second year in a row, Pride was cancelled out of health and safety precautions, but both the club and supporters found ways to celebrate the diversity and inclusivity that makes Atlanta special and reflect on the parades of years' past.

Marianna has been in attendance for Atlanta's Pride parades since 2007.

"I used to call myself a good ally," she laughed.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago, right around the time that she found Resurgence, that she came out. For her, those two things weren't a coincidence.

"I don't know that I would've been as comfortable coming out if I didn't have the support system here," she said. "We have a lot of people that identify as every part of the spectrum and just seeing them, and the acceptance they got from other people, that was very helpful."

Representation is a powerful thing and all three of them are well aware of that. Resurgence, and Atlanta United at large, has served as a comfortable place to simply be a true version of themselves—rowdy, proud and out.

“I know it’s 2021, but not everybody has that space," Marianna said. "I’m just very thankful to.”

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