Pride House Birmingham launches with ambassadors announcement

LGBT+ inclusion project for 2022 Commonwealth Games invites all to ‘Celebrate, Participate, and Educate’, with four athletes helping to share the message…

By Jon Holmes

The Pride House project for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham has been formally launched with the announcement of four athlete ambassadors.

Pride Houses are welcoming spaces for the LGBT+ and allies community at major sporting events. Since the first was established at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, there have been many more set up at Olympic and Paralympic Games, football and rugby World Cup tournaments, and other sports championships.

Next year’s Commonwealth Games in the UK’s ‘second city’ will begin on July 28 and run through to August 8. Pride House Birmingham will not only have a physical location presence at the Games, but will also be a hub for an extensive series of programming and outreach based around the theme ‘Celebrate, Participate, and Educate’.

To mark Tuesday’s launch, four Pride House Ambassadors – all well-known athletes hoping to compete at Birmingham 2022 – have been named, with more set to follow. They are:

Tom Bosworth

The Olympian holds multiple British and world records in race walking and won a silver medal for England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.

I’m truly honoured and really excited to be an Ambassador for Pride House Birmingham. This is something very close to my heart and a fabulous opportunity to educate and reach out to people from so many different areas of the Commonwealth, which could make a vital difference. I can’t wait to celebrate the Games with all the LGBT+ community from Birmingham and around the world.

Tom Bosworth

Dutee Chand

India’s national champion in the 100m, Chand was a double silver medallist in sprints at the 2018 Asian Games. She is also the first out athlete to compete internationally for her country.

I’m honoured and thrilled to become a Pride House Birmingham Ambassador. It was right before the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow in 2014 that I was dropped from the Indian national team due to Hyperandrogenism Regulations of the World Athletics (governing body). Since then, I have fought for my rights to compete the way I was born. Being the first openly lesbian athlete from India, I feel the need to celebrate and embrace difference. Sport is for all and it must provide a safe space for everyone.

Dutee Chand

Michael Gunning

The British-born Jamaica international swimmer holds national records for 200m butterfly, 200m freestyle, and 400m freestyle, and is on course to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

I’m so thrilled to be an Ambassador for Pride House Birmingham in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games next year. Sport is all about equality, and I’m excited to show everyone around the world that anything is possible!

Michael Gunning

Robyn Love

Part of the British team that reached the last four of the Paralympic wheelchair basketball tournament at Rio 2016, Love is expected to represent Scotland when the sport is included in a Commonwealth Games programme for the first time next summer.

I’m honoured to be an ambassador for Pride House Birmingham. I think it will be a fantastic space in which we will not only celebrate the diversity of athletes participating in the Commonwealth Games, but welcome all members of the LGBTIQ+ community and their allies in a safe, welcoming and educational environment.

Robyn Love

Pride House organisers believe that this new project in Birmingham has a particularly important role to play, given the global attention there will be on the Games in 2022. In part, the initiative hopes to draw further attention to global LGBTIQ+ rights, given 35 of the 54 sovereign states of the Commonwealth still have anti-homosexuality laws.

During the Games itself, the Pride House will provide a physical space for the community to view the competitions, experience the event with others, learn about LGBTIQ+ sport and LGBTphobia in sport, and build a relationship with mainstream sport.

Programming will include community sport and physical activity, cultural events, conferencing, education and engagement with local schools, as well as a variety of parties and other events celebrating the Games and Birmingham’s diverse LGBTIQ+ community.

Neil Basterfield and Piero Zizzi – well known in LGBT+-inclusive sport through their work with Proud Baggies, the West Brom supporters group – are the local organisers.

“As a Brummie, I am hugely proud to be leading on this project,” says Zizzi. “Pride House Birmingham will celebrate the fantastic diversity of England’s second city, explore our relationship with the Commonwealth, and create a lasting legacy for LGBTIQ+ inclusion in sport.”

Pride House is also working closely with the Commonwealth Games Federation to ensure that this initiative builds on Pride Houses at previous Games and forms part of wider plans for equality, diversity and inclusion across the Commonwealth Sports Movement.

Pride House Birmingham is a project being delivered by Pride Sports, a UK sports development and inclusion organisation, led by Lou Englefield alongside local LGBTIQ+ organisers, Piero Zizzi and Neil Basterfield, who run LGBTIQ+ football fan group, Proud Baggies.

The organisers are keen to engage a range of stakeholders from the local community, and interested organisations can get in touch via email at info@proudhousebham.org.uk.

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