What you can do

Ryan Atkin is a true sporting role model

Referee Ryan Atkin coming out is a turning point for football. 

He’s the first openly gay professional football referee and he says seeing the mass show of support for Rainbow Laces gave him the confidence to come out. 

His story demonstrates something we have long known at Stonewall -  the importance of allies. 

Ryan needed the Premier League, the Football Association and the English Football League, the PGMOL, to come out for LGBT equality. 

Role models like Ryan are so important. 

Getting allies to support LGBT people is what the Rainbow Laces campaign is all about. 

It was never about getting LGBT people to come out.  

The Rainbow Laces campaign isn’t even about footballers; it’s about everyone in sport. 

Most fans say they wouldn’t dream of saying something homophobic in front of someone they knew was gay.  

People like Ryan let younger LGBT people know they’re not alone.

Unfortunately, they forget that there are LGBT people who watch and play sport. 

They forget there are people who work in sport, like Ryan, who every weekend have to listen to an anti-gay chant or comment while they do the job they love. 

Role models like Ryan are so important. 

People like Ryan let younger LGBT people know they’re not alone, and that they too can succeed in any walk of life.

Now we need people to do more.

But it was because LGBT people still feel they have to hide who they are in sport that we started the Rainbow Laces campaign. We had a simple request for people – wear rainbow laces. 

Now we need people to do more. We need people to hear us when we say that the homophobic chants and the ‘banter’ aren’t harmless. This is abuse and it makes LGBT people feel unable to say ‘I’m gay’.

We also need even more people to come out in support of LGBT people because Ryan coming out isn’t a sign that everything’s fixed. 

There are openly LGBT players in other sports, but it doesn’t mean homophobia doesn’t happen. Football may well have the spotlight but other sports still have a lot of work to do.  

To solve this we need allies from across sport

Senior leaders across all sports need to step just like the Premier League, the EFL, the FA and others and be proud and courageous in their support of LGBT equality. 

The ECB is the latest to join - homophobia is a problem across all sports. 

To solve this we need allies from across sport to step up and play their part in making sport everyone’s game. 

Find out more about The Rainbow Laces Campaign