I never really thought that at my age I would ever be a football mascot. Well, actually, I wasn’t really but I did get to hold the Proud Baggies’ flag as the players came out for West Bromwich Albion’s home game against Swansea City on Rainbow Laces Day.
Rainbow Laces Day is the day when football clubs and their supporters embrace diversity and promote the message that football is for everyone. Several of the players wore rainbow laces, there were rainbow corner flags, there were clear messages for those who are not yet on board (and there are some) that the club stands fully behind its LGBT supporters.
This is not a football blog so I will say little about the actual game except to say that our team played the best football I have seen for several years and won 5-1. The weather gave us a lovely surprise with the rapid interplay of rain, hail and sunshine producing a lovely rainbow over the rather unpoetically named Smethwick End.
And so on to the Loft Lounge for drinks. And chat. And more drinks. We are a diverse group and fully reflect the diverse nature of the LGBTQI community. There are those who argue that the various parts of the community don’t necessarily belong together, and it has been suggested that the T doesn’t really belong. I have discussed this here and explained why I consider it to be wrong. This is not an issue in this particular queer football family. Our group includes straight allies, there is Carlos from Portugal who just loves hanging out with queer folk (and well who wouldn’t!). For we are multinational too. Our Austrian Proud Baggie Sophie couldn’t be with us on Sunday but was watching at home in Vienna.
In a world that is darkening with the rise of populism, nationalism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and suspicion of the other, our rainbow is a light pointing the way towards a better world. And an illustration of the capacity of football to bring out the best in people.
If you want to know more about our group check out our website https://proudbaggies.com/