Rainbow Laces 2019

Lighting up London for Rainbow Laces

This year the Proud Lilywhites and Tottenham Hotspur worked together on the biggest ever show of support for Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign.

As 2019 marks the Proud Lilywhites’ 5th anniversary as the official LGBTQ+ supporters association of Spurs, we have refreshed our identity to include the black  and trans pride flags in order to reflect the  inter-sectional nature of the Proud Lilywhites and Tottenham Hotspur’s continued commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Rainbow Stadium Launch Event

We welcomed to the world renowned Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, representatives from organisations we have worked with including Kick it Out, Stonewall, Football V Homophobia, Fans for Diversity and Pride in Football. We were also joined by our very own club legend Ledley King and our captains for both the Men’s and Women’s teams – Hugo Lloris and Jenna Schillaci – who all greeted our guests in Europe’s largest club retail store before beginning the celebrations and ceremonies at the iconic auditorium.

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Groups arriving at the Tottenham Hotspur Experience for the launch of the #RainbowStadium campaign

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Women’s captain Jenna, Club Legend Ledley and Men’s captain Hugo welcomed guests to the #RainbowStadium launch event. Image courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur.

After a heart-felt speech from Tottenham’s executive director Donna-Maria Cullen introducing the #RainbowStadium campaign, we heard a specially recorded message from the men’s first team coach Jose Mourinho celebrating Proud Lilywhites 5th year. Donna then continued to celebrate the achievements and development of the Proud Lilywhites – as well as those who have helped us along the way. Special thanks was given to Jonathon Waite, who sadly passed away a year ago, for his unequivocal support and determination in establishing the Proud Lilywhites as successful and making us a success.

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Spurs Executive Director Donna-Marie Cullen opening proceedings with her welcome speech

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Jose sent a special message to the Proud Lilywhites. Full video here: http://bit.ly/36jK6ai Video courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur

Our co-chairs Chris Paouros and Simon Gray then proceeded to unveil our newly updated logo and brand. “This journey is not just about us. It’s about the broad diversity in our community, our trans siblings, our black and brown siblings, and if just one of us is being attacked, we’re all being attacked. Which is why we are, tonight, revealing our refreshed identity to show that our group and our club is for every single LGBT and Q person at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club” 

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A video showing the story of the Proud Lilywhites so far was also shown at the event. Full video link: http://bit.ly/2P9Hczh Video courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur

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Co-chairs Chris & Simon introducing the new Proud Lilywhites Logo

We then wrapped up warm and congregated on Tottenham High Road to watch the countdown to the rainbow light switch on. Our patron Helen Richardson-Walsh was among many other representatives that witnessed history be made as the Tottenham Hotspur stadium was officially illuminated in the iconic Rainbow colours – described by many as a “Light Sculpture”

“It’s incredible. Everyone is fighting the cause and pushing the envelope and the way the club have really supported the group and this whole campaign is really heartening. It feels really genuine – I know its genuine, and that’s the great thing – it’s not just putting a rainbow on it – this feels like they genuinely care about the community and they want this to be an inclusive club”

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Spurs Vs Burnley – Supporting our supporters

Our dedicated fixture for this year’s Rainbow Laces campaign was our home match on Saturday 7th December against Burnley FC. We welcomed the Clarets to our newly illuminated stadium on another brisk afternoon in North London. The Premier League provided a multitude of ‘Rainbow Assets’ including a rainbow ball plinth, rainbow players archway and a Rainbow 4th officials board; as well as of course, Harry Kane’s rainbow armband and iconic Rainbow Laces worn by Eric Dier, Christian Eriksen and Serge Aurier.

The Spurs team clearly enjoyed the dynamic Rainbow coloured GOAL flashes across the entire stadium – so much so they scored the most goals in a single home match in this Premier League!  And some very special goals they were indeed! If a few rainbows around the stadium is all it takes to get Sissoko his second goal in two home games, a belter from outside the box for Captain Kane and an absolute worldie from Sonny that will live long in the memory of all Spurs fans – then we suggest having a rainbow filled stadium all year long!

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The #RainbowStadium is iconic and the Rainbow Laces campaign is important in football so along with our patron Helen Richardson-Walsh, we were very kindly invited by Spurs to join Paul Coyte for the Half time interview. After projecting a video about Thursday night’s event, Co-chair Chris Paouros, Proud Lilywhites member Lee Johnson and Helen talked to Paul by the dugouts to talk about the Proud Lilywhites and Rainbow Laces.

Helen began the interview discussing her 5 years as patron of the Proud Lilywhites. “It’s something I am very passionate about and it’s great to see how far its progressed in this time. I think the thing I am most proud of is how seriously this club takes their role with the fans. Tottenham Hotspur are right behind equality in football” 

Chris continued the discussion about the evolution and reach of the Proud Lilywhites since forming the group in 2014. “Our flag is up in the stadium. Our flag was up at White Hart Lane. For most spurs fan this [Proud Lilywhites Flag] is a badge of honour – that we have the best LGBT fan group. We have messages from all over the world – the Americans love us! We are really proud of Tottenham being a bastion of inclusion and equality.”

Speaking about the difficulties LGBTQ+ fans face when attending matches, Lee spoke openly about his experiences as a gay Spurs fan. “A few years ago I actually stopped coming to matches for quite a while because I didn’t feel particularly welcome in this environment.” When asked by Paul if that environment has changed recently, he replied “Completely. It had gotten to the point on match days where I wondered what the point in me being there was. It wasn’t actually until I saw the Proud Lilywhites flag a few years later on TV when I then reached out to Chris and the Proud Lilywhites and they managed to help me get back into going to matches again. Now I’m a season ticket holder!”

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The Spurs cockerel shines bright with the #RainbowStadium

To round of a fantastic match day, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was once again illuminated in rainbows to dominate the North London skyline – to not only celebrate the great achievements of both Spurs, the Proud Lilywhites and many other LGBTQ+ fan groups, but also to recognise there is still a long way to go in our campaign to achieve equality and inclusion across the board in football.

Spurs Women Vs Brighton & Hove Albion Women – Rainbow Laces in the WSL

We also saw the magic of the rainbow at the Hive with our Women’s match against Brighton on Sunday 8th December. The Proud Lilywhites flag was ever-present as we cheered on our team in their 4th top flight win of the season. Ashleigh Neville’s close range effort eventually crossed the line – and once again the important touch came from a boot tied up with rainbow laces.

With the Women’s team currently standing firm in 6th place in the Women’s Super League, this tie was a hard slog on a heavy pitch, but the quality of our team won out.

Josie Green also wore her Rainbow Captain’s Arm band as she lead the team out with pride and celebrated alongside Neville and the rest of the team with their fantastic result.

Special Podcast Episode

We will shortly be posting a special Rainbow Laces edition our Proud Lilywhite Podcast, featuring interviews with our patron Helen Richardson-Walsh and Kick It Out’s Troy Townsend. Stay tuned for updates!

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