Rainbow Laces

Proud Baggies aiming to educate fans

9 Dec 2020

How West Brom's LGBT+ supporters' group are helping fans feel comfortable about who they are

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When Proud Baggies, the LGBT+ supporters' group for West Bromwich Albion fans, was launched three years ago it broke new ground as the first of its kind in the West Midlands, says co-founder Neil Basterfield.

"I spent years going to football, fending off questions, particularly when you have got a child with you, and then people will ask about your wife," Basterfield says.

"Then you immediately have decisions to make in a crowd of people, with people you sit by day in, day out.

"That gets tiresome and difficult and I felt we need to get some visibility in our club and we need visibility across the sport, because without visibility there can be no change. That is why I think we are important. 

"We are out there. We raise awareness. We change people's minds. We get the opportunity to educate over time. We make people feel more and more comfortable about being who they are in the place they love to go."

"Without visibility there can be no change"

Neil Basterfield, Proud Baggies co-founder

Proud Baggies celebrates diversity and aims to provide a safe and welcoming environment not only for LGBT+ fans but also for their family members and allies as well.

And their campaign to eradicate all forms of discrimination applies to the whole of football.

"People do say, 'Why do we need an LGBTQ+ supporters' group?' " says Basterfield in an interview with BBC Radio 2 presenter and fellow Proud Baggies member Richie Anderson.

"We do get a lot of comments that are meant to be helpful around, 'We're all the same, we don't need groups like this. It's divisive,' etc.

"Most of the LGBTQ+ people we speak to absolutely value the idea and the work we do and it is about inclusivity. It is about feeling a part of something.

"We are a part of the big football family."

Also in this series

Part 1: League renews partnership with Stonewall
Part 2: Rainbow Blades bringing colour to Sheff Utd
Part 3: Premier League passion in the US: Katherine's story
Part 4: Spurs proud to show support for LGBT+ community
Part 5: Bellerin: I'm not afraid to support Gay Gooners
Part 6: 'We want LGBT+ inclusion woven in the fabric of football'
Part 7: Premier League clubs show Rainbow Laces support
Part 9: How Man Utd are creating a club for all
Part 10: Cahill: Everyone should be accepted for who they are
Part 11: Justin: It’s important to learn about LGBT issues

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