One of Sporting Pride's primary aims is to help establish more LGBTQ+ inclusive sports clubs in order to encourage higher rates of sport participation in our community. There is already an abundance of LGBTQ+ inclusive sports clubs across the UK. We take a look at just a handful of these UK based clubs below and will endeavour over the coming months and years to create similar models in Ireland.
The Gay Games in Paris last year saw over 1000 LGBTQ+ swimmers from all over the world (including Ireland) competing in 51 different events, including freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke. In the UK, Out to Swim is not only the largest LGBTQ+ inclusive swim club, but one of the biggest masters aquatics clubs in the UK. Founded over 25 years ago, they now have teams in London and Bristol and offer participation in many aquatic disciplines, including pool, open water, water polo and Artistic (Synchronised) Swimming.
London is also the base for the London TAGS, a trans and gender non-conforming swimming group, while Brighton hosts a similar swimming group which offers swimming sessions for anyone excluded by their gender identity. In Wales, LGB&T Sport Cymru were involved in the setting up and running of a swimming project aimed at the Transgender community which provided free swim sessions on Sunday afternoons for 10 weeks.
In recent years the number of people taking up powerlifting has increased tremendously. The LGBT Powerlifting Union are a group of athletes who focus on giving LGBT Powerlifters representation with both mainstream and LGBT Sports organisations. They have recently been negotiating with the Federation of Gay Games about the inclusion of Powerlifting in Gay Games XI in Hong Kong! In March of 2019 they hosted LGBT Powerlifting workshops in London and Blackpool and there is no reason why such events cannot also be hosted in Ireland. Their next event is Pride powerlifting in Manchester on Thursday August 22, which will include free learning sessions, meet and greets, demonstrations, and a questions and answers session.
The Union also organise the LGBT International Powerlifting Championships, an unsanctioned fun competition to encourage LGBT participation in the sport. They currently offer Novice, Closed, Open categories for participants, which gives LGBT athletes as much choice as possible to compete. LGBT IPC 2018 was the first sports event in the world to offer an MX third gender category, welcoming Trans, Non Binary and Intersex athletes to compete.
In other countries, Crossfit Cardiff have been listed on the website of LGB&T Sport Cymru as an inclusive sports club for LGBT+ sports enthusiast, while in Edinburgh the Rainbow Lifters invite trans and non-binary folk to come along to their sessions which are tailored toward gender affirming exercise, where people can learn how to lift weights and exercise safely.
Rowing has been gaining more momentum in recent times, possibly due to the success of elite Irish athletes such as the O’Donovan brothers and Sanita Puspure. In London, the LGBTQI+ friendly London Otters rowing club welcome all abilities, from complete beginner to experienced rowers. As well as weekly sessions at the docks, they take part in regattas and races around the south-east of the country. They also organise social events for their members - it's not all hard work! Inclusiveness, teamwork, development, sportsmanship and resilience are the five key values they adhere to in their work with the LGBTQ+ community.
An initiative in Scotland, Pride on the Clyde, saw a partnership between Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club and LEAP Sports create opportunities for members of the LGBTQ+ community to get a sense of what rowing is about. Clydesdale and LEAP took part in the Glasgow Pride weekend festival with the aim of changing the image of rowing by promoting the sport as inclusive, fun, and welcoming. At the Pride village, visitors were able to try rowing on the machines, and on the water. Those who took an interest in rowing were given further information as to how they could join and continue their learning.
Although not as popular as other sports in Ireland, more people are showing an interest in taking up basketball as a recreational and/or competitive activity. In the UK a number of clubs cater to the LGBTQ+ community, offering sessions which welcome people of mixed abilities. In Edinburgh, the LGBT Basketball Group is a friendly and informal weekly group for LGBTQI beginners and regular players alike. They welcome the entire diversity of the LGBTQI community and any supporters they wish to bring. Similarly, in Glasgow the Rainbow Glasgaroos offer basketball sessions to anyone of any skill, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Wales have a women’s only basketball club in the form of Aberystwyth University Women’s team. They describe themselves as a friendly and welcoming club with a zero tolerance for the discrimination of a person based on their gender identity or sexual preference. By being part of their club, members will have a chance to learn to play basketball and be part of a team that acts as a second family. They aim to improve skills on the court, and self-esteem through team cohesion and social events. As part of a campaign run by the union, their rainbow laces represent that ‘We don’t care which team you play for’.
Interested in setting up an LGBTQ+ inclusive sports club but don't know where to start? Get in touch with us and we'll work in partnership to get your idea off the ground!