Work, pub, home, bed. Sound familiar? It’s a routine many of us fall into and are equally keen to fall out of. Sport is nothing but a distant memory.
Making a change is totally possible – which is why LGBTQ+ sports groups are booming across the UK. It seems our social lives don’t need to revolve around alcohol all the time. Who’d have thought?
Whether you’re into football, hockey, volleyball or something else entirely, LGBTQ+ sports groups are offering safe spaces for people to meet friends, break their routine and get fit.
They can also lay to rest those nightmare experiences of PE at school.
“Many times, as a gay teenager, you feel excluded from those opportunities,” says Sidney Lima, president of London’s Spikers Volleyball Club.
“When people join our club, they are invited to enjoy not only volleyball but also to make the most of socialising within the club. Many other players would have shared same challenges and experiences.”
People still feel excluded from sporting groups that don’t cater to LGBTQ+ individuals.
“Some players decided to join our club after trying out for other teams and not feeling comfortable,” Sidney adds.
“We also have straight players who decided to be part of our club because of who we are and the values we have as a club.”
That feeling of acceptance isn’t just limited to volleyball. Men from all walks of life are getting together to toss muddy balls around on a regular basis for the Kings Cross Steelers.
“Rugby has always been about respect (on and off the pitch)”
The London rugby club has been around for 23 years. It holds the honour of being the world’s first gay and inclusive rugby club.
“Rugby has always been about respect (on and off the pitch) and you can see that when you go to a game,” says Simon Davis from the Steelers.
Simon believes the world of rugby is lapping the pitch against other sports when it comes to inclusivity. Membership of the Steelers are prime examples of this, he says.
“We have several members who have or do play for straight teams,” says Simon.
“We also have straight guys who play for us because they enjoy the environment. That’s a really healthy club environment and truly inclusive.”
Sidney says groups like the Spikers offer social opportunities for people they wouldn’t find by meeting people in bars or clubs. Simon agrees. But you’re just as likely to find the Steelers lads in the pub knocking back shots as you are getting dirty on the touchline. For this club, there’s as much focus on socialising as there is sport.
“A great starting point for lifelong friendships and involvement in a community”
“Bars and clubs have always been an important space for the LGBTQ+ community to meet and it’s important that it continues,” says Simon.
“There are many sports clubs in London where you can try a new sport and meet new people. That’s a great starting point for lifelong friendships and involvement in a community.”
Clubs like these are bringing major benefits to sport-minded LGBTQ+ people. And not just in the glutes. But wouldn’t it be cool if – one day – gay people could rock up to a sports club and get going? And not worry about fitting in?
“Yes, that’s how things should be,” says Sidney from the Spikers.
“But it’s also good to be part of an LGBTQ+ group so we can keep our eyes open to those who don’t have that privilege.”
Simon believes the secret to achieving this is making sure our locker rooms are open to everyone.
“Visibility is a large part of acceptance,” he says. “Humans will always stick together in like minded groups but we should be welcoming people from all walks of life.”
And, he says, the worst digs are more likely to come from your gay teammates than the straight ones.
“Any comments we’ve experienced in the past are nothing to the shade thrown by our own mates,” he jokes.