In November 2019, Proud Baggies decided to mark the annual Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign by creating a piece of Fan Art in the form of a mosaic.
Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign is designed to raise awareness of LGBT+ inclusivity in sport. There are countless examples where LGBT+ people feel isolated and often hide their true selves whilst participating or watching sport at all levels.
In elite men’s football, this is particularly acute with homophobic incidents at games on the rise and a lack of out gay role models in the game. Whilst it is true that attitudes are changing both on and off the pitch there remains a clear and obvious environment in which players and spectators find it difficult to be ‘out’.
Key to the campaign is encouraging non-LGBT+ allies to show their support for the LGBT+ community.
With this in mind, Proud Baggies decided to create a fan mosaic – using images of WBA supporters sent online and collected at recent matches, staff and players as mini-tiles to recreate the Proud Baggies’ logo. A mosaic was an obvious choice since it clearly represents the concept of strength in togetherness and the importance of inclusivity.
In the Fan Mosaic every supporter becomes part of the bigger picture representing the importance of people coming together to support the cause and at the same time showing the diversity of the WBA fan base joining together as one.
Themed around diversity (fans of all kinds) and inclusion (coming together for a common purpose) the work is a perfect representation of the ethos of West Bromwich Albion who have a long and cherished history of promoting equality in the game.
The mosaic also tells the story of Proud Baggies.
Interwoven within is a pictorial history of the supporter group from inception in 2017 to the present day, from match day meet-ups, award ceremonies and media appearances, the images chart the rise of the group and the impact it has had on the local community.
Among the fans providing images are Sandra – a true WBA super fan and proud ally of the LGBT+ community. Sandra has been a key Proud Baggies member from day one and is an active and vocal supporter. She typifies the selflessness of LGBT+ allies who offer their support to the community all year round.
The mosaic also includes Eve, a trans woman and lifelong fan who was encouraged to attend games for the first time in many years after joining Proud Baggies, having confidence knowing that not only did she have our support but also that she could see the very visible support from the club. Her story is representative of many of our members who have come back to The Hawthorns in the last two years since Proud Baggies inception.
Indeed, these examples are typical of the whole WBA community which has always been one of mutual support, and whilst homophobia is still an issue in football we are confident that it is isolated to a minority here at the Albion and that the work that we do as Proud Baggies together with the support of our fantastic fan base is slowly winning over more and more allies and helping to make football everyone’s game.