Rainbow Laces: A symbol of inclusion in football

This year Rainbow Laces season kicked off between 19th and 31st October, with the 26th as Rainbow Laces Day.


In 2013 the Rainbow Laces campaign was set up by charity Stonewall, with the hope to increase visibility for LGBTQIA+ individuals in sport, whilst raising awareness of the community’s experiences both on and off the pitch.


“It’s time to Lace Up and Keep It Up”- Stonewall.



On June 28th 1969, New York police violently raided the Stonewall Inn- a predominantly gay bar in Manhattan- and hauled employees and patrons out of the bar. Six days of protests and clashes followed, many led by black transgender women.


Marsha P. Johnson, who was 23 at the time, was one of the key figures who stood up to the police during the raids.


The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement and led to the creation of many gay activist groups around the world, including the Gay Liberation Front and PFLAG (formerly Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).


Although famously known for their Rainbow Laces, Stonewall has had numerous positive impacts. These include:

  • In 1992- they began its first major campaign for an equal age of consent in the UK

  • In 2001- they set up the Diversity Champions programme, to help employers who want to treat their lesbian, gay and bi employees fairly

  • In 2005- they launched the Education For All campaign to tackle homophbic bullying in schools

  • In 2007- they launched their iconic ‘Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!’ campaign

  • In 2009- they conducted the first large scale study of lesbian and bi women’s health

  • In 2013- they sent Rainbow laces to all professional football clubs in the UK

  • In 2015- they extend their remit to campaign for trans equality

With Rainbow Laces becoming a symbol of inclusion across all sports, the FA show their support annually, with captains wearing rainbow-coloured armbands and many players using rainbow laces.


Arsenal’s warm-up kit reinforced this key message.



There’s still a long way to go, as four out of 10 LGBTQ+ people don’t feel welcomed in football stadiums.


With the tenth anniversary of this progressive campaign coming up, as well as many other initiations set to be in place, the future of football looks hopeful for everyone.




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