A UK national collective is harnessing the power of TikTok to reach other young people and build a more inclusive community in sport. We invited one of the group’s founding members to explain more…
By Edward Kandel
Edward Kandel is part of the LGBTQ+ in Sport team.
LGBTQ+ in Sport is a national, grassroots collective of people young at heart across the UK working towards making sport inclusive for all.
Our team of 20 ranges in age from 19 to 30, across a range of sports – cricket to gymnastics, football to rowing, tennis to roller derby – encompassing a range of sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as ethnicities and races.
We work across four pillars…
- Building Community – events in-person and online
- Raising Awareness – collaborations with top athletes and social media
- Driving Impact – digital, research-backed courses and accreditation schemes for university & college clubs
- Manufacturing LGBTQ+ Kit – gear that meaningfully benefits the community
Sport reminds us that we are stronger in numbers – that when we are united, we are not only far happier but also more powerful.
Sport has the potential to have the most positive, transformative effect on society, uniting a wide variety of individuals from different backgrounds who have talents and are willing to work and push themselves to their limits, whilst receiving a myriad of health benefits.
However, it’s increasingly accepted that sport is not open and accessible to all. If you don’t have the privileges associated with being male, white, heterosexual, cisgender, and able-bodied, sport can be everything from unwelcoming to inhospitable, physically and mentally dangerous. It’s this issue which we’re laser-focused on nailing.
Research shows that LGBTQ+ people participate in sport far less than their heterosexual and cisgender peers – a Pride Sports report for Sport England in 2016 highlighted that 42% of these people had negative experiences of sport in school and university, and almost half found the culture of sport intimidating or unwelcoming.
Indeed, these experiences have been felt within our own team. I struggled being immersed in a sports environment I loved yet where, in the words of Macklemore, ‘gay is synonymous with the lesser’, used as an insult or put-down regularly, and any insinuation of attraction to the same-sex was met with contempt.
Others on our team have faced societal restrictions and physical assault due to their gender identity; others have been pushed away from even LGBTQ+ ‘inclusive’ sports clubs due to their ethnicity or race; many more of our team have concealed a part of themselves from even close team-mates over fears of reactions to their truth.
Yet, although there is significant work to do, it’s not all doom and gloom – more and more top athletes are feeling able to open up about their identities, and more of the millennial and Gen Z generations are speaking openly about not fitting into the straight, gender binary.
Some of our team have been lucky to have positive experiences within sport due to this change. One of our team members discovered their love of football at university through a women’s and non-binary football group, which has grown to become a huge passion. Others have seen success at the very top of sport, competing in British and European championships without fear or recourse due to their identity.
As part of this, LGBTQ+ in Sport has launched a TikTok account, as part of driving awareness and education of LGBTQ+ issues in sport for all people.
It’s well documented that there are a number of closeted individuals using TikTok.
We’re looking to provide a hub of inspiration, information, and support to all LGBTQ+ people in sport.
We’ll also be providing resources, tips, and guides to being a great ally and making your sport or club actually inclusive.
Twinned with our Instagram (@lgbtqsport), we post something LGBTQ+ and sport-related most days.
In addition, as part of our aim to make all university and college clubs inclusive, we’ve launched our Student Pride Pledge.
This involves university and college clubs publicly stating their support of LGBTQ+ people in sport, and has been signed already by nearly 200 clubs across the country and across a range of sports.
We’re aiming to build this up to a virtual festival involving 400 clubs celebrating Student Sport Pride on Wednesday, May 5.
Also in the latter stages of development are our digital programmes and accreditation. These will enable clubs, for free, to turn this huge amount of support we’re seeing into manageable actions, making their clubs actually inclusive for all LGBTQ+ people.
We’re also working with our Student Union partners to support clubs making this effort, in encouraging new members to join them who may not previously have felt comfortable partaking in sport.
We’re always looking for more awesome people to join our kickass team, solving big problems around inclusion in sport, all whilst having a great time and making lifelong friendships. If that sounds like you, head to the ‘Join Us’ page on our website.
Thanks to Edward Kandel from LGBTQ+ In Sport. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the group’s website at www.lgbtqsport.co.uk.
Learn more on this recent episode of the BBC LGBT Sport Podcast.
Sports Media LGBT+ is a network, advocacy, and consultancy group that is helping to build a community of LGBT+ people and allies in sport. We’re also a digital publisher. Learn more about us here.
LGBT+ in sports? Your story could help to inspire other people – you don’t have to be famous to make an impact, and there are huge gains to be made both personally and more widely in sport. Start a conversation with us, in confidence, and we’ll give you the best advice on navigating this part of your journey.