Helena says

Helena Says: LGBTQ+ Sport Campaign

 

 

This week I am running an LGBTQ+ awareness campaign to shout loud and proud about how inclusive sports are for the LGBTQ+ community at University of Birmingham.

Over the week, our sports clubs are having themed training sessions and sports nights with rainbows and glitter to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ within their clubs. The campaign is also linked in with XpLosION, the amazing American Football event taking place this Saturday, 11th November. The American Football team are supporting the campaign by wearing rainbow laces for their game. I’ll be joining the LGBTQ Association helping with the glitter face painting, as well as selling rainbow sweets and rainbow laces!

To acknowledge the achievements of LGBTQ+ people in sport a few students have written about their experiences. Here are their stories:

Anna

A bit of detail of what sports/activities you have been involved with at University: I started on the development team for Women's football in first year, playing local teams and IMS within the uni. As a second year, I am now in the women's 3s squad, representing the university in BUCS.

Has your sexuality ever caused any barriers to participation in sports at university? Luckily, no. Women's football does a remarkable job (both on and off the pitch) of making everyone feels included. No one is left feeling unwelcome whilst being involved in the sport, and I can rest assured that if I were to feel uneasy about any aspect of my sexuality in relation to football, I would be given lots of support.

Do you have any advice for anybody struggling with their sexuality? Take as much time as you need to figure things out. There is no rush, and it's okay to be confused. Feel no pressure to talk to anyone about it until you're ready, but know that there are always others who understand exactly how you're feeling. You are not alone!

What is your relationship to the LGBTQ community? Without the LGBT community I would be a completely different person. The support of others from within has given me constant reassurance, confidence and happiness. It is through finding other people like me, that I was finally able to accept myself. Sometimes, I do feel as if the community has some misconceptions about bisexuality, but I do think this is slowly improving!

What’s your proudest sporting achievement? Scoring a last minute winning goal in a county cup final when I was 12.

 

Joshua

A bit of detail of what sports/activities you have been involved with at University: Since joining University, I have been a part of the development squad of Trampolining competing in all competitions and the BUCS finals.

Has your sexuality ever caused any barriers to participation in sports at university? The great thing about trampolining is that we’re an incredibly inclusive and accepting club. I personally feel this leads to the sport being welcoming to any individual and making them comfortable – regardless of skill, race or sexuality.

Do you have any advice for anybody struggling with their sexuality?

The biggest thing I would say is try to do everything in your own time. It can take months or even years to fully accept your sexuality yourself. Don’t do anything until you feel ready to and don’t feel pressured by anyone to act on anything before you feel comfortable enough to do so. Your sexuality doesn’t define you as a person and coming out won’t change the person that you are.

What is your relationship to the LGBTQ community?

As I myself have only ‘come out’ since joining university, I’d say that the LGBTQ+ community has supported me in accepting myself and also seeing that there is nothing to be ashamed of in being true to myself. Every person within this community has their own experiences and stories to share and in doing so, more than anything, it lets you know that you’re not alone.

What’s your proudest sporting achievement?

As somebody who gets out of breath just from running for the bus, committing to a sport and being picked for the development squad was probably a big highlight for me. The fact people believed in me really pushed me in first year allowing me to medal throughout the season which I never expected. I feel this really improved my academic life too. In my eyes, I didn’t believe in myself to commit and do well within a sport – yet the committee and my teammates believed in me. Academically, whenever I feel I can’t achieve, I just know that there will be people rooting for me and, if I can surprise myself in sport, perhaps I can surprise myself and do well in my studies too. 

 

Ben

A bit of detail of what sports/activities you have been involved with at University:

In my first year of uni I was part of Med Run and Med Badminton. I then plucked up the courage to join the Triathlon Club in my second year and have never looked back! I’m currently in my fourth year in the club and have joined the committee as Men’s Captain  – I’m really enjoying having a role in the club’s organisation!

Has your sexuality ever caused any barriers to participation in sports at university?

No, I have loved the atmosphere in the tri club and never felt out of place or like I couldn’t participate.

Do you have any advice for anybody struggling with their sexuality?

My advice would be to talk about it! Talk about it with your friends, flat mates, family and course mentors/welfare advisors. Also try not to deny any feelings you are having… it’s definitely healthier to consider them rather than suppress them.

What is your relationship to the LGBTQ community?

Between time spent on my course and triathlon training I have to admit that I have not got as involved in the LGBTQ community as I would like. I have a couple of really close friends who are also gay I can turn to for support though.

What’s your proudest sporting achievement?

After having to take a very frustrating 4 months off running and cycling training due to a stress fracture scare, I was very proud to come back to triathlon stronger than ever after months of physio and race a massive PB at our BUCS Sprint Triathlon in the summer… I ran the 5k run leg faster than I used to be able to race a 5k by itself so was very happy!

 

 

Isabel

A bit of detail of what sports/activities you have been involved with at University:

I have been in the Kayaking club for two years and play for the ladies’ canoe polo team. I’m also social sec of the club.

Has your sexuality ever caused any barriers to participation in sports at university? No, everyone has always been very accepting and welcoming.

Do you have any advice for anybody struggling with their sexuality?

Don’t feel pressured to label yourself, university is a great place to discover who you are and your sexuality, not everyone can be certain straight away, take your time.

What is your relationship to the LGBTQ community? I am a member of the association within the university but I would like to become more involved.

What’s your proudest sporting achievement?

The ladies canoe polo team recently came second at ‘Paddlington’, an annual tournament.

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