Sports Media LGBT+ in 2021: FAQs, Calendar, stories, etc

Published by Jon Holmes on

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…

Jump to… Connect | Calendar | Your news – get noticed! | Coming out stories | Testimonials | Recent achievements

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.

Find out more in our About section.

What do you offer?

#AuthenticMe is our annual community event

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.

Who’s involved?

Jon Holmes

Our network’s core team consists of around 40 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.

Find out more on our Contact page.

Who do you work with?

Joanie Evans, the Federation of Gay Games co-president

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 the Football Writers’ Association, 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 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. In 2021, we held an online anniversary event for Jack Murley’s BBC LGBT Sport Podcast with special guests.

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 – coming up in early 2022

Your news matters – find an audience!

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.

Michael Gunning

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’re keen to reach a bigger audience beyond just this website, we can discuss 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 regularly 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.

Ethan Akanni

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.


Katie Gornall and Charlie Martin at our #AuthenticMe event at the BBC

“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

Devin Ibanez

“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 them 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

“Sports Media LGBT+ has been such an integral part of my personal development in 2020. In April 2020, they provided me the opportunity to share my coming out story publicly for the first time. After this, my life changed rapidly and for the better! Since being a part of the Facebook group and following the Instagram page, I have seen and read through so many inspirational, heartbreaking and educational stories from people with various backgrounds sharing their own experiences. Sports Media LGBT+ has also connected me with so many like-minded people and created friendships that will last a lifetime!” – Ethan Akanni, athlete

And finally…

Here’s some of our recent achievements and activations:

Reach out to discover how Sports Media LGBT+ can help you!

Jon Holmes

Digital Sports Editor