Aaron Cresswell highlighted the “massive” importance of clubs continuing to support the Rainbow Laces campaign after West Ham opened the ‘Hammers Pride’ bar in east London.
West Ham unveiled the pop-up bar in close collaboration with supporters’ group Pride of Irons to celebrate 10 years of Stonewall’s campaign, which was conceived to show support for all LGBTQ+ people in football and beyond.
This year’s ‘Lace up to keep it up’ theme, which is taking place between December 2-7, focuses on the ongoing commitment to ensuring football is inclusive and welcoming to all.
— West Ham United (@WestHam) November 29, 2023
Irons left-back Cresswell told the PA news agency: “It’s massive and it’s a good thing for us to support.
“There is a lot of diversity out there and we continue to show our support for that.”
Pride of Irons is one of many LGBTQ+ fan groups in the Premier League, with the likes Canal Street Blues (Manchester City) and Proud Lilywhites (Tottenham) also campaigning for better inclusion.
And Cresswell touched on the positive steps which have been made since the start of his career and the importance of West Ham continuing to show support.
“From mine and the club’s point of view it is really important that we support and it’s good we’re involved in this. Long may it continue,” he added.
“The club do a lot of things in the community and it’s vital that we continue to do that and to show our support in all different aspects inside and outside of football.
“West Ham is a family club, I’ve been here 10 years and each year the club represents itself well and I think it’s important if you’re straight or gay to feel a part of West Ham and to feel welcome.
“It’s getting massive (support for LGBTQ). Every year it’s getting stronger and stronger. With social media and the support, it’s getting much easier now to communicate and follow.
“I think back in the day people were scared to speak out or talk to people but now the support is in place and West Ham certainly do that.”
Pride of Irons co-chair Jo Bailey lauded the club’s efforts in creating visibility and their work behind the scenes.
“The club has always supported Rainbow Laces which builds visibility. It’s always been key,” she said.
“We get a lot of messages from people who are in a difficult situation and who are unable to come out or in fear of losing family, friends or worse. For them to know that the club is inclusive and that they can feel safe is massive.
“All these gestures mean so much.”