What’s your favorite Pride-themed jersey in sports?
Outsports writers have seen many over the years that would proudly sit in our wardrobes, or possibly even a picture frame in our homes.
Some of us prefer subtlety, others like to be bold. These days, there’s something to cater for every taste.
Remember queer artist Mio’s Canucks creation from March 2022, combining the sky, land and sea of British Columbia into a symbolic coming-out landscape?
Sticking with hockey, the Utah Grizzlies clawed their way into our affections with their Pride night effort just last month, while in basketball, who can forget those iconic Denver Nuggets uniforms of the 80s and early 90s?
Since soccer clubs began to raise their game in the fight against homophobia, we’ve seen plenty of football shirts that incorporate rainbows or use the colors of the Progress flag in imaginative ways.
In 2019, Altrincham FC — a lower-league club based just outside Manchester — went ‘full rainbow’ in support of the Football v Homophobia campaign and made headlines worldwide.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s ‘Love Unites’ kit, unveiled just over a year ago, was only a special-edition training top but even made some fashionista fans of rival clubs envious.
The latest sartorial sensation in the Premier League with a Pride theme landed this week in Brighton and it’s made quite the splash.
Perhaps that should be ‘splat,’ as this takes Albion’s famous blue-and-white stripes and drizzles what resembles red, orange, yellow, green, blue (well, cyan) and violet gunge from the neck down.
Below is the Rainbow Laces slogan ‘Make Sport Everyone’s Game’.
The campaign has been receiving its annual activation across British sport in the last fortnight and Brighton’s contribution has been to bring this design to kit manufacturer Nike for production.
Heartwarmingly, the artist responsible is 14-year-old Livs Cook whose competition entry was chosen from hundreds submitted to the Brighton and Hove Albion Foundation by local schoolchildren.
“I thought that the drips of rainbow colors would represent the merging of the rainbow laces with the Albion,” said the teenager. “I also added the writing as I wanted to emphasise the point that everyone is equal in sport.”
The Foundation is the Sussex club’s official charity and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there was lots of interest in the contest.
There is evidence of strong LGBTQ representation in Brighton’s population dating back to the 19th century, and the city has long held the tag of being the UK’s “gay capital”.
More recently, the England and Wales census 2021 asked questions about sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time — and with 10.7% of adults aged 16 or over living in the local authority area saying they aren’t straight, Brighton’s beautiful queerness which includes an abundance of LGBTQ families has now been confirmed by the data too.
Sadly, Albion supporters continue to find themselves subjected to homophobic chanting and abuse from rival fans — police have been investigating reports of discrimination that occurred in the game at Nottingham Forest on November 25 — but the football club itself increasingly lifts up LGBTQ voices with confidence.
The women’s team has worn rainbow shirt numbers on its jerseys in WSL games and fans group Proud Seagulls has been regularly promoted on the club website and social media.
The group’s chair Stuart Matthews was on the judging panel for the shirt design competition and so was Albion superfan Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook (not thought to be related to the winner).
from last night's amazing #RainbowLaces fixture.— Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation (@BHAFCFoundation) December 7, 2023
Livs, who designed our awesome Rainbow Laces shirt, went to the game with her granddad and got to meet Albion legend Glenn Murray!#BHAFC ⚪ pic.twitter.com/wg61SM66BL
Having helped to whittle down the designs, the DJ and producer — who shot to global fame in the 90s with hits like “Praise You” and “Right Here, Right Now” — proudly posed for a social media picture in the special Rainbow Laces jersey upon its production.
Albion players then warmed up in the shirts on the Amex Stadium pitch, going on to beat Brentford 2-1 on the night in front of over 30,000 fans.
With the failure of Sheffield United’s captain to wear a rainbow armband raising eyebrows in midweek, the visibility given to the ‘rainbow drips’ jerseys by Brighton is a welcome boost to the campaign.
Sarah Byrne, the head of ED&I at the Foundation, is certainly feeling upbeat after the success of the competition.
“To have had so many entries has really blown us away,” she said.
“It’s heartening to know there are so many young people in Sussex who are passionate about supporting the LGBTQ+ community.”