In 2015, the world’s largest and first international study on homophobia in sport was published, Out on the Fields. The results were staggering and confirmed that homophobia in sport is still a huge issue. 1% (ONE!) of all people that took part in the survey felt that LGBs were accepted in sporting cultures. If that’s not shocking enough, 80% had either witnessed or personally experienced homophobia in sport, and three quarters of gay participants felt that homophobia was more common in sport than in any other area of society.
SKINS wanted to create an environment where gay athletes could feel safe in being who they are, so we had to increase awareness to get people to understand that it’s unfair that these people are prejudiced. To do that, we partnered with the Aussie LGBTI group Pride in Diversity.
Inspired by the success of Stonewall’s sporting initiatives in the UK, we decided to run a Rainbow Laces campaign of our own in Australia by creating the Rainbow Round of Sport from 31 March to 4 April 2016. The plan was to get everyone involved in sport in Australia - including players, administrators, coaches and spectators - to show their support by wearing rainbow laces and then sharing the message with the world.
We chose six different sports, all with fixtures on that weekend, to drive our campaign: rugby league, rugby union, AFL, football, netball and surfing. Teams and ambassadors from each sport showed their support by wearing rainbow laces during their matches or tournaments, including the likes of Johnathan Thurston and Robbie Farah for Rugby League; Matt Toomua and the Brumbies for Rugby Union; Dylan Shiel for the AFL; Joel Parkinson for surfing and Sharni Layton and the NSW Swifts for netball.
Supporters could join the campaign by wearing rainbow laces during the Rainbow Round of Sport, and then tweet about it, post a pic to Instagram and share it on Facebook using the hashtags #KnotMe and #RainbowLaces to spread our message with the rest of the world. They could order their laces free of charge from our website or collect a pair at Rebel and Amart Sport stores in the week leading up to the event.
The campaign was a huge success, with 100,000 Rainbow Laces distributed among professional and grassroots teams and players, corporations, schools and the general public. Furthermore, the campaign generated 135+ media stories across print, online and radio, with an estimated reach of over 2.5million and yielded 245k shares on social media.