AU Scores Out Homophobia In Sport With Pride!
Article by Josh Hasbury & Kirsty Reynolds
The Athletic Union successfully launched its ‘AU with Pride’ campaign this month. Several events took place across the university to raise awareness of homophobia in sport and some of the barriers that LGBT students face.
The campaign launched on Monday 2nd November when Team Derby’s Men’s Football 1sts played against the Nottingham Lions. Members of Team Derby, students and staff attended the game to show their support.
The Nottingham Lions were founded in 2006 by David Orange. Captain of the Nottingham Lions, Brett Lacking, said:
We are currently the only openly gay friendly team in the National Sunday League.
In May 2015, a survey titled ‘Out on the Fields’ found that 77% of UK athletes had witnessed or experienced homophobia.
Brett believes that homophobia in sport is slowly becoming less of an issue.
I don’t think there’s a major affect on homophobia in sport nowadays as it’s not as acquired as before. There are lots of male and female players who are openly out now. People are becoming more socially accepting. If more professional football players speak out then clubs like ours won’t be required anymore. That’s our long-term goal.
On Friday 13th November the Athletic Union took over Markeaton Park for five hours. The Students’ Union’s Colour Dash was the second event held as part of the campaign, and saw students complete a 5k run for charity whilst covered in paint. All of the money raised from the Colour Dash will be donated to the Marie Curie charity.
The final event, a sport and homophobia discussion panel, took place on Thursday 19th November at Kedleston Road. The panel included Angie Harper, Derbyshire County FA’s Women Girls and Inclusion Football Development Officer, and members of Team Derby Women’s Rugby club and the Sexuality Gender Romantic Diversity (SGRD) society. During the evening each of the panellists discussed how they came out in their chosen sports, why some athletes feel they can’t speak out and how professional clubs can combat homophobia.
Rosie Hayles, Athletic Union President explained her reasons for launching the campaign:
Inclusion is very important to me. I want students to feel supported when playing sport. I decided to launch ‘AU with Pride’ to show that anyone can play sport, no matter what their gender or sexuality.
Rosie admitted that she was inspired by the ‘Proud to Play’ campaign that YouTube launched in June last year. As part of the campaign, LGBT athletes were interviewed about their experiences with homophobia. YouTube encouraged its users to create their own videos about LGBT sports issues, which were shared throughout the course of the campaign. The campaign also highlighted the work of organisations such as the LGBT Sports Coalition to end anti-LGBT bias in sport.
I saw a couple of the campaign videos and thought it would be a good idea for the Athletic Union here at Derby to run a similar campaign. When I was watching some of the athletes’ interviews I found it really heart-breaking that they felt that they couldn’t speak out about their sexualities to their teammates. Many of them said that they didn’t want to do so because they didn’t think their teammates would accept them. I don’t think anyone should ever have to feel this way. So what if you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, you shouldn’t be afraid to tell your teammates or the public. Your sexuality shouldn’t impact upon you playing a sport that you love.
Homophobia in sport isn’t as big of an issue as it once was but it’s still there, especially in the professional game – not just football but rugby too. There are a lot of athletes who have spoken out and who now feel more comfortable, but there are also a lot who haven’t. I wanted to help raise awareness of homophobia in sport generally and show support for those players out there who are afraid to speak out.