Rainbow Laces

Celebrating 10 Years of Rainbow Laces

Event hosted at City Hall to mark the 10th anniversary of Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign.

This year the Rainbow Laces campaign celebrated 10 years.

Alongside Amateur FA, Stonewall and the London Assembly, we partnered together to host an event at City Hall to share the amazing stories of the LGBTQ+ football community, as well as exploring how Rainbow Laces has impacted other sports as well.

Rainbow Laces

The event 'Celebrating 10 Years of Rainbow Laces' was opened by Emma Best, Deputy Leader of City Hall Tories and Leader of Waltham Forest Conservatives, who was brilliant in helping pull the event together so we could celebrate at City Hall.

Two Q&A panels were held throughout the evening, as well as attendees networking to meet those from different sports and share best practice.

We first heard from members of Lacrosse in a thought provoking panel discussion, which explored what the sport is doing to grow participation numbers whilst ensuring it remains accessible to as many people as possible by providing the right environment for the LGBTQ+ community. The panel was hosted by Erin Williams (they/she), who is the Sport Programmes Manager at Stonewall. They have dedicated their career to building inclusive environments and learning opportunities across sport and leads Stonewall's work with performance Academies. A lacrosse player and coach for over 25 years, Erin represented Wales across 3 World Cups and won 3 European Championships medals.

Erin was joined by Qasim Alli (he/him) and Jason Naylor (he/him). Qasim is the founder and coach of London City Panthers Mixed Lacrosse Club, providing racially inclusive, mixed gender lacrosse playing opportunities. He plays with the Rainbow Rexes LGBTQ+ touring team, as well as Lions Elite Mixed Lacrosse, and advocates for breaking down gender normativity, classism and racism in sport.

Jason is a Content Creator in the Marketing & Communications department at England Lacrosse who has taken a lead on inclusion since 2020. His and England Lacrosse's passion in the inclusion area led to the organisation becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion in 2022; being a Diversity Champion helped with the formation of the England Lacrosse Inclusion Advisory Group which Jason currently sits on. Jason is determined to continue to increase inclusion and diversity within lacrosse, allowing more people to get involved in the sport.

Next up, we heard from members of the grassroots football community who play an integral part in creating an inclusive and safe space for the LGBTQ+ community to participate in football in London. The panel was hosted by Robbie de Santos (he/him), who is the Director of Communications and External Affairs at Stonewall and has been an important force in the Rainbow Laces campaign throughout its 10 years.

Rainbow Laces

Robbie was joined on the panel by the following guests: 

Brian Silk (he/him), who has played for Leftfooters FC, Stonewall FC and Bexley Invicta FC, now known as Charlton Invicta FC, where he was Chair from 2011 to 2015. Brian was Director of Registrations for the IGLFA World Championships 2008 in London and Vice Chair of Kent Equality Advisory Group from 2011 to 2019. More recently, Brian sits on Amateur FA IAG, is Chair of London Unity League as of 2017 and is Community Liaison Officer for Erith Town FC, since 2022.

Julia Gillman (she/her), who joined Brockwell United in September 2022 after reaching out to the team following England Lionesses win at the 2022 Euros. The club was the perfect atmosphere with the fun Instagram posts and sense of community which is felt at training and match days. Since joining, Julia has developed as a player and has joined the committee as Kit and Merch Manager.

Chris Knight (he/him), who is a lifelong football fan who, since their inception a little over a year ago, has been involved with the RainbO's, the Leyton Orient LGBTQ+ supporters group, as their treasurer. Chris also works with other fan groups with the aim of making football more inclusive as well as playing for Stonewall Football Club. When not investing too much time in football he is a maths

Alex Baker (he/him), who is Chair of Stonewall FC, is a Level 4 London FA Referee, the vice-president of IGLFA (the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association) and, as of the end of July, one of the National Game Community Reps on the FA Council with responsibility for increasing diversity and inclusion in the game.

Rainbow Laces

The event was the perfect opportunity to celebrate all the great work that is being done to provide opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community by members and allies. It also highlighted there is still some way to go. However, by working together to amplify and educate the message of inclusion, we can create spaces for all to participate in sport.

To find out how you can improve your knowledge on making football (and sport) more inclusive, click on the great resources below.


Kick It Out

Football v Homophobia

Pride Sports