My badminton club - Goslings - was just crowned as the Most Inclusive Club at the Out for Sport Awards 2019. Earlier in the year my old rugby club the Kings Cross Steelers won Men’s Team of the Year at the Guinness National Rugby Awards.
The work both of these (and so many other) clubs and their members have done in making sport an inclusive environment is incredible.
Whilst schoolyards are arguably becoming gradually more accepting of LGBTQ+ people, sport is still typically seen as the realms of the masculine from the start. A lack of role models, stereotypes like ‘gays can’t catch’, slurs like ‘poof’ being hurled from touchlines, sports being seen as masculine or femenine. Just some the deterrents for the LGBTQ+ community.
Add the prefix of ‘LGBTQ+ inclusive’ to a sports club and you naturally widen its scope. It shows them to have an interest in people as well as the sport. For those where sport and those around it may have denied entry for being too camp etc, this small signal of acceptance opens a doorway. Community, support, health, friends, skills, acceptance, guidance. All things I know friends (and I!) have gotten from LGBTQ+ sports clubs in different doses.
This isn’t to say there’s a lack of focus or competitiveness - with many sports offering international tournament opportunities, far from it!! - merely that there is an added dimension. Likely stemming from the struggles many have in discovering their LGBTQ+ identity, acceptance and nurturing are wonderful recurring themes across LGBTQ+ sports clubs. this approach doesn't just get more people into sport, but helps them grow both in their sporting ability and as people. As brief annecdotes, Jeremy didn't play sport until after Uni, and ended up as Chariman at the wonderful London Outplay Squash Club, and for me the same club helped me begin to understand myself as I discovered my sexuality.
It still sucks LGBTQ+ children aren’t given the same sporting opportunities and support as others. However the inclusive approach LGBTQ+ sports clubs have vs the ‘are you good enough’ mentality of some mainstream clubs, offers a second route into the world of sport. With the world on a health and fitness drive, the appetite for more LGBTQ+ sports clubs is growing. So have a Google - or if you’re in London visit the Out for Sport fair next year - and find something to try in your area.
I promise they won’t bite!!
Love, the Age Gap Guys x