Learn about our network, advocacy and consultancy group; discover how our digital publishing output and content production skills can help you; find an audience for your story via Google News; see upcoming events; read testimonials; get advice about anything to do with being LGBTQ+ in sports…
So what is Sports Media LGBT+?
We provide a space where lesbian, gay, bi and trans people – and their allies – are visibly represented in sports.
Our story began back in 2017 when we launched in London, UK, as an industry network group. As well as continuing to fulfil that remit, we’ve also evolved into advocacy, consultancy, and digital publishing.
Representation is essential for our communities as we collectively seek to demonstrate that being LGBTQ+ should in no way be a setback to achieving your ambitions. We know the media has an important role to play in sharing empowering stories, while sport in particular has the power to promote equality globally.
Everyone deserves to enjoy the games and physical activities they love without feeling that they should hide who they are.
What do you offer?
Being LGBTQ+ in sports, whatever your role, can often be challenging due to cultural pressures, concerns around participation, and the personal journey that each of us navigates with regard to our sexual orientation and gender identity.
Connecting to a wider network of people like yourself facilitates a sense of belonging, and provides access to a knowledge base of lived experience and understanding. Mutual trust and security are integral to our network group.
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 connections to many of the UK’s biggest sports publishers and platforms. We welcome opportunities to consult and we are open to enquiries about producing content that supports your equality, diversity and inclusion objectives.
Got a request for us? Let’s talk it through and work out the best strategy for a successful result.
Our network has over 50 core members, each of whom works in the UK sports media or in related, relevant industries. There is a diversity of lesbian, gay, bi and trans representation within this team.
Jon Holmes, an experienced writer and editor specialising in LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport, founded the group and serves as lead. Network colleagues 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.
You can learn more about some of our network members in the Our Stories In Sport section.
Devin Ibanez, who first shared his story of being a rugby player who’s gay in December 2020: “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.
“They helped me tell my story in my own voice, crafting it 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’re an athlete looking to come out, please reach out to them and they will be a fantastic ally and mentor!”
Michael Gunning, international swimming star: “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.”
Charlie Martin, trailblazing racing driver: “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.”
Ethan Akanni, international hurdler and co-founder of the Athletics Pride Network: “Sports Media LGBT+ has been such an integral part of my personal development.
“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.”
Lou Englefield, director of Pride Sports and campaign director of Football v Homophobia: “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?!”
So 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.
Private – Join over 500 people from around the world in our Community Group on Facebook | Connect with 100+ people in our Group on LinkedIn | Talk to us about our WhatsApp group
Find out more about connecting on our Contact page.
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 the Football Writers’ Association, InterMediaUK, Pride Sports UK / Football v Homophobia, 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 working 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. Our latest version was produced for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
We also have capacity to issue resources and guidance on other associated topics – enquire to discuss.
Events, campaigns, and initiatives
Sports Media LGBT+ has an ongoing initiative called #AuthenticMe, which carries the tagline ‘How Being Your Authentic Self Boosts Performance in Sport’. We activate this each year in early October, tying in with two awareness days – World Mental Health Day (October 10) and Coming Out Day (October 11).
In October 2022, we marked the occasion with a network group social night playing cricket and football at Sixes Fitzrovia, before linking up with Pride of the Terraces and LEAP Sports Scotland for a panel event in Glasgow later in the month, celebrating Scottish Sporting Pride.
In previous years, we’ve put on events with special guest speakers at the BBC in Salford, and Twitter HQ in London, as well as virtual get-togethers. In 2021, we held an online anniversary event for Jack Murley’s BBC LGBT Sport Podcast with celebrity guests from previous pod episodes.
We’ve also staged quiz nights in support of LGBTQ+-inclusive charities; campaigned against tabloid media sensationalism in the reporting of stories about gay and bi male professional footballers; and amplified messaging around Football v Homophobia, Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces, Pride month, LGBT History Month, Lesbian Visibility Week, Sporting Heritage, and other worthy causes.
Our major project for 2022 was helping to deliver the successful Pride House Birmingham venue and project at the Commonwealth Games, where we took on responsibility for media and comms.
Keen to get our support for your LGBTQ+-inclusive sports project? Drop us a line…
Calendar of events / dates for your diary – coming up in 2022 / 2023…
- Wed 16 November to Fri 16 December – UK Disability History Month
- Sun 20 Nov to Sun 18 Dec – FIFA Men’s World Cup (Qatar)
- Thu 8 Dec (12pm) – SJA British Sports Awards (London)
- Fri 20 January 2023 – Sports Media Identity Network – Dis/ability event (Loughborough Uni Campus, London)
- February – LGBT+ History Month – theme for 2023: ‘Behind the Lens’
- Feb – Football v Homophobia Month of Action
- Fri 17 to Sun 26 Feb – Premiership Rugby supporting Rainbow Laces
- Mon 6 March – SJA British Sports Journalism Awards (London)
- Wed 3 to Thu 4 May – Include Summit (Manchester)
- Thu 20 July to Sun 20 August – FIFA Women’s World Cup (Australia and New Zealand)
- Fri 8 September to Sat 28 October – Rugby World Cup (France)
- Fri 3 to Sat 11 November – Gay Games XI (Hong Kong and Guadalajara)
Your news matters – find an audience!
Our Google News ranked website pulled in over a million impressions via search in 2021 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. Whatever your pitch, please send it our way – and if you’re keen to reach a bigger audience beyond just this website, our network members who work for those platforms and publishers are on hand to discuss further.
Meanwhile, 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. Just look at the reception that awaited Josh Cavallo and Carl Nassib in 2021, and Jake Daniels in 2022.
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 individual narratives are personal and precious to us – everyone in the Sports Media LGBT+ network knows 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 – however it’s communicated, the story resonates with its readers, listeners, and viewers.
Importantly, everyone’s experience 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 maintaining privacy, gaining reassurances, and building mutual trust are intrinsic to this process, and that there are differing degrees to coming out. If you would like to start a conversation in confidence about this, we’re here to listen and help. Confidentiality is guaranteed. Email our network lead Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some of our recent achievements and activities…
November 2022: Helped to collate and produce BCOMS’ D Word 4 Diversity Guide
September 2022 – : Consultancy with Kick It Out on Qatar 2022 Working Group, to explore issues relating to LGBTQ+ inclusion in and around the FIFA World Cup
October 2022: Helped to organise an #AuthenticMe event at Strathclyde Students’ Union in Glasgow alongside Pride of the Terraces and LEAP Sports Scotland, supported by the SJA
October 2022: Put on a network group social night at Sixes Fitzrovia in London
July and August 2022: Led on media and comms for the successful delivery of the Pride House Birmingham venues and project at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
June 2022: Put on an event in London to launch the LGBTQ+ Professionals in Football Collective
May 2022: Provided consultancy and support on Jake Daniels’ coming out story
April 2022: Collaborated with Football v Homophobia campaign on new episodes of the FvH Podcast to mark Lesbian Visibility Week
April 2022: Launched The Pride House Podcast, a new series in support of Pride House Birmingham ahead of the Commonwealth Games