It’s seven years since the Rainbow Laces campaign was first launched in football – and it’s now a firm fixture in the calendar.
Every year, the Stonewall initiative for LGBT inclusion – supported by Sky Sports as a member of Team Pride – grows in terms of awareness, reaching more sports and spreading a positive message that everyone’s welcome.
Sky Sports asked three supporters of EFL clubs why Rainbow Laces matters to them and their fellow fans.
Andy Garden is one of the co-founders of Proud Salopians, the LGBT fans group at Shrewsbury Town which was launched earlier this year. He says the campaign is a powerful, visible reminder that football brings people together.
“Everyone is welcome to take part,” he says. “Sexuality isn’t a barrier, and shouldn’t be a barrier.”
At Huddersfield Town, Proud Terriers was founded by Ryan Mather back in October 2016. The group has become a powerful influence for inclusion in West Yorkshire and beyond, and this time of year is particularly busy. “The constant support we’ve got from the club has just been overwhelming,” says Ryan.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Pennines, Beth Warriner of the Bolton Wanderers Community Trust has played a pivotal role in setting up an LGBT+ Youth Group, also working closely with Bolton Pride on a project to tackle hate crime.
For Beth and the young people she works with, Rainbow Laces is an effective way to help let a person know that they will be respected for who they are, regardless of sexuality or gender identity.
“The tagline for the campaign is make sport everyone’s game – but this goes beyond that. It transcends sport,” she says.
Watch the video at the top of this article to hear from Andy, Ryan and Beth.