Get the lowdown on our group, see what events are coming up, read testimonials, and find out how to get published with us or even share your coming out story…
What is Sports Media LGBT+?
We’re a network, advocacy, and consultancy group, and a digital publisher in our own right. We are playing our part in the growth of a wider community of LGBT+ people and allies who have a connection to sport.
We were founded in London, UK, in 2017, and our continuing focus is on the important role that the media plays in sharing empowering stories, providing visibility and representation, and celebrating achievements.
What do you offer?
Being LGBT+ in sports, whatever your role, can often be challenging due to cultural pressures, concerns around participation, and the personal journeys that each of us navigate with regards to our sexual orientation and gender identity.
Being able to connect to a wider network of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people facilitates a sense of belonging, and provides access to a knowledge base of lived experience and understanding. Above all, we value trust.
At a public-facing level, we advocate for an end to discrimination in all its forms, and for greater awareness around the importance of support structures and responsible reporting. To achieve this, we are able to harness the power of media and journalism through our access to many of the UK’s biggest publishers and platforms. Consultancy requests are afforded time and thought to determine the best approach for successful end results.
Our network’s core team consists of around 30 members, most of whom work in the UK sports media or related industries. We have a diversity of lesbian, gay, bi and trans representation within this core team.
Jon Holmes, Senior Editor at Sky Sports, founded the network and serves as lead. Colleagues on the network are employed in roles of influence by other major media organisations such as the BBC, ITV, national newspapers, The Athletic, and Goal; by national governing bodies and sports clubs; and as independent journalists and broadcasters.
How do I connect?
Enquiries and correspondence are welcomed via our contact form or by email – confidentiality is guaranteed. We also operate private chat forums and community spaces online; events with networking opportunities; and we are active on social media platforms.
Who do you work with?
Sports Media LGBT+ prides itself on being a collaborative group that seeks to promote the inclusion work of others.
We are supported by the Sports Journalists’ Association – our industry’s biggest membership group – and we work frequently with our partners such as InterMedia UK, Pride Sports UK, and Racing Pride, as well as sports clubs and societies.
In addition, we are part of a wider family of individuals and organisations who are active in equality, diversity and inclusion in both sport and media. We aim to champion their work and amplify their message.
See more of our connections on our Links page. If you’re interested in developing a closer relationship with us, please get in touch.
Resources and learning
‘Rainbow Ready’ is a resources pack written for anyone in a media or communications role who is looking for accessible, practical information about LGBT+ inclusion in sport.
The document is designed to assist with the creation and production of content that reflects the experiences of athletes, coaches, administrators and associated roles who are lesbian, gay, bi, and trans, outlining the type of message an individual or group may want to convey and how to best deliver that to different audiences.
‘Rainbow Ready’ is also available as an online webinar or stand-up presentation, and the format can be adapted to fit your requirements, such as for Pride Month, an awareness campaign, or a sport-specific version.
We also have capacity to issue resources and guidance on other associated topics – enquire to discuss.
Events, campaigns, and initiatives
In 2018, we created an initiative called #AuthenticMe, with the tagline ‘How Being Your Authentic Self Boosts Performance in Sport’. Activated each year in early October, the initiative ties in with two awareness days – World Mental Health Day (October 10) and Coming Out Day (October 11).
Our first related event was held at the BBC in Salford and featured guest speakers and Stonewall Sport Champions, Tom Bosworth and Charlie Martin. In 2019, we held an even bigger event at Twitter UK’s London HQ headlined by Olympic gold medallists Matthew Mitcham and Susannah Townsend, plus another Stonewall Sport Champion in Michael Gunning, and more speakers in roles across elite sport to grassroots, and from sports media.
In 2020, we linked up with Pride Sports UK to stage two webinar events – the first on launching an LGBT+ network in sport, and the second on mental health in football for LGBT+ people. Both events were recorded and are available to watch back for free.
We’ve also staged a charity quiz night that raised nearly £1,000; published an open letter signed by over 200 people and organisations in football to campaign against tabloid media sensationalism in the reporting of stories about gay and bi male professional players; and helped to raise awareness on campaigns and initiatives we’re passionate about, such as Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces, Football v Homophobia and Football Pride, and the fight against World Rugby’s attempts to impose a blanket ban on trans women playing women’s rugby.
Keen to talk more about this? Perhaps you’re looking to partner up? Drop us a line…
Calendar of events / dates for your diary in 2021
- Thu 28 Jan (11am GMT) – Webinar: Gay Games Hong Kong – Exciting Plans for 2021
- Thu 28 Jan (7.30pm) – Proud Valiants event on LGBTQI supporters groups in football
- Sat 30 and Sun 31 Jan – Elite Ice Hockey League marking Pride Weekend virtually
- Sat 30 Jan (7pm) – Football v Homophobia Month of Action launch event (Proud Valiants)
- Sat 30 Jan (8.30pm) – Proud Valiants event – Comedy Night: The Worst Football Songs… Ever!
- February – LGBT History Month (UK) – Theme for 2021 ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’
- Feb – Football v Homophobia Month of Action
- Mon 1 to Sun 7 Feb – Race Equality Week
- Tue 2 Feb (11am) – FvH Webinar: Inclusive Boards & Committees
- Wed 3 Feb (11am) – FvH Webinar: A Welcoming Message – Media and Comms for LGBT+ Inclusion (delivered by Sports Media LGBT+)
- Thu 4 Feb – Time To Talk Day
- Fri 5 Feb – Football v Homophobia Awards – see nominees here!
- Tue 9 Feb (11am) – FvH Webinar: Coaching LGBT+ Footballers
- Tue 9 Feb (6pm) – FvH Interactive Workshop: LGBT+ Inclusive Grassroots Clubs
- Wed 10 Feb (12pm) – Webinar – Facilitating inclusion: Non-binary experiences of sport and physical activity (Encompass Network)
- Wed 10 Feb (3pm) – LGBTQ+ History Month: Michael Dillon – Trans Pioneer (Bristol Museums)
- Fri 12 Feb (4pm) – LGBT+ 101 Training (Football v Homophobia)
- Mon 15 Feb (7pm) – Queer Youth Trailblazers in Football (FvH Youth panel discussion)
- Tue 16 Feb (6pm) – FvH Interactive Workshop: LGBT+ Inclusive Non-League Clubs
- Wed 17 Feb (7pm) – Cycling Pride – The Launch of an LGBTQ+ Network in Cycling
- Fri 19 Feb (6.30pm) – ‘Diversity and Inclusion in Football Media’: Panel discussion in association with FvH Youth Panel – register here
- Tue 23 Feb (6pm) – FvH Interactive Workshop: LGBT+ Inclusive Junior Football
- Wed 24 Feb (11am) – ‘LGBTQ+ History Month: The history of gender in sport’ panel discussion (Bristol Museums)
- Wed 24 Feb (2pm to 6pm GMT) – Fare v Homophobia: What’s next for LGBT+ inclusion in football? (Day 1)
- Thu 25 Feb (11am) – ‘Tackling Inequality – LGBTQ+ Representation: Sport as a Starting Point’ – Harlequins Foundation webinar
- Thu 25 Feb (3pm to 7pm GMT) – Fare v Homophobia: What’s next for LGBT+ inclusion in football? (Day 2)
- Fri 26 Feb (4pm) – LGBT+ 101 Training (Football v Homophobia)
- Mon 1 March – Zero Discrimination Day
- Thu 4 and Fri 5 Mar – LGBTIQ+ Sport & Physical Activity Alliance Summit
- Mon 8 Mar – International Women’s Day
- Wed 24 to Wed 31 Mar – Football v Transphobia Week of Action
- Wed 31 Mar – Trans Day of Visibility
- Mon 26 April – Lesbian Visibility Day
- Mon 26 Apr to Sun 2 May – Lesbian Visibility Week
- Mon 10 to Sun 16 May – Mental Health Awareness Week – Theme for 2021 ‘Nature and the Environment’
- Mon 17 May – International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – Theme ‘Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!’
- June – Pride Month
Reach our audience – your news matters!
Our Google News ranked website attracted tens of thousands of visitors in 2020 and allied with our ever-growing social media following, we’ve quickly become one of the foremost go-to digital destinations for content related to being LGBT+ in sports.
We encourage you to share your news, press releases, and stories with us. Published content may take the form of a standard article, a Q&A feature, a video interview, social posts, or something different. Good quality imagery to accompany the content is welcomed but not essential! Whatever your pitch, please send it our way – and if you’d like to reach a bigger audience, we can provide those opportunities too.
Finally, if you’re already creating content, shout about it! Our Recommended page lists a variety of websites, podcasts and other outlets that cover the LGBT+ experience in sports, as well as a list of editors and journalists who regular cover this topic and related themes. To ask to be added, get in touch.
Coming out stories
One of the universal experiences that binds us together as members of the LGBT+ community is coming out – it’s never a one-off event and is often challenging, but when done right, it’s liberating and confidence-boosting. Whether you’re at the beginning of that journey (perhaps only recently sharing your truth with another person or group of people for the first time) or you’ve been out in one or more parts of your life for a while now, maintaining control is crucial. Our stories are personal and precious – we know this from experience.
Along the way, learning about the coming out journeys of other LGBT+ people helps to encourage and inspire us. This is particularly true in sports; from household names like Tom Daley and Casey Stoney, to younger athletes like hurdler Ethan Akanni and cyclist Emily Bridges (both of whom we assisted on articles in 2020), each story resonates with its readers, listeners, and viewers.
Importantly, everyone’s story matters – you don’t have to be famous or playing a high-profile sport to make an impact. It’s often said in LGBT+ inclusion that even if an action makes a difference to just one person, then it’s worth doing. The overwhelmingly positive responses to coming out stories frequently demonstrate the power of storytelling.
We know that gaining reassurances and building mutual respect and trust are intrinsic to this process, and that there are differing degrees to coming out. If you’d like to start a conversation about sharing your story, and the positive outcomes for both yourself and those you reach, we’re here to help. Contact us – as always, confidentiality is guaranteed. If you’d prefer to send us a message anonymously, use our Curious Cat.
“Coming out in professional sport still isn’t easy – that’s why it’s so important that athletes feel able to be visible in order to inspire future generations and increase levels of LGBTQ+ participation. Sports Media LGBT+ has been vital in helping me navigate the media space since coming out, offering guidance and enabling me to tell my story authentically to achieve a positive impact” – Charlie Martin, trailblazing racing driver
“Sports Media LGBT+ is an amazing network that continues to share the inspirational stories of athletes, coaches and communities all around the world. We all have a voice and it’s so important to feel part of a group that builds us all up every day, and to read the positive stories that can sometimes be overlooked” – Michael Gunning, international swimming star
“Coming out publicly was a very overwhelming experience for me and at times I struggled to stay on top of everything. Sports Media LGBT+ really helped me navigate the process of crafting and telling my story in my own voice. They helped me tell my story in a way that I didn’t think would be possible. Being able to lean on and work with during this time made a huge difference. I would never have been able to get my story out and inspire people without their help. If you are an athlete looking to come out, please reach out to them and they will be a fantastic ally and mentor!” – Devin Ibanez, professional rugby player
“Sports Media LGBT+ is our go-to resource for LGBT+ inclusive comms. They have delivered training for us, provided panellists and chairs for various events, and provide advice and guidance on working with the media. They ensure we never miss a single LGBT+ sports story. How did we ever get along without them?!” – Lou Englefield, director of Pride Sports UK and campaign director of Football v Homophobia
Here’s some of our recent achievements:
- Working with Racing With Pride, the LGBT+ and allies network for British horseracing, to publicise their launch and a tailored version of ‘Rainbow Ready’
- Chairing panel discussion events for Soccerex Connected and Stonewall FC
- Partnering with the team behind the LaGolda animation to support a new short documentary film about the journey of Wales legend Jess Fishlock
- Consulting with comms and PR teams to raise awareness around an episode of the CBBC drama Jamie Johnson that covered the topic of coming out