The sports community today joined LGBT activists at a ground breaking event to make plans for the biggest ever Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans History Month, throughout February 2011.
The month aims to raise the profile of LGBT sportspeople past and present, as well as tackling homophobia and transphobia in sport.
Participants in today’s pre-launch event heard from LGBT sports specialists and organisers of successful LGBT History Month events shared their experience.
BBC TV’s Jane Hill compered a panel discussion with John Amaechi, psychologist and former NBA basketball star, Clare Harvey, GB sitting volleyball player, and rugby legend Gareth Thomas.
Gareth spoke of his personal torment in the closet and the liberation of coming out. He cited the power that sponsoring brands such as Nike have to set the agenda and make positive changes.
Clare thought it would be easier to come out before reaching peak performance as there would be less pressure.
John also shared his unique professional insight as both a psychologist and professional sportsman, when he spoke of ‘the authenticity of living openly’. The tiny amount of energy a closeted sportsperson reserves to protect themselves really is significant at the level of elite sport.
Dikeledi Sabanda spoke movingly about the Chosen Few black lesbian soccer team in Johannesburg and their tireless and often dangerous campaign work. She said the South African constitution looks great on paper, but in reality it just didn’t protect her.
Sue Sanders, Co-chair of LGBT History Month, commented:
‘It’s been an amazing, productive day for everyone involved. We heard so many positive stories and great ideas for events. We’ll try and share everything on our website.
‘There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Dikeledi told us of the brutal murder of her friend and teammate.
‘Taking on homophobia and transphobia in sport is a huge challenge for us, but I’m bowled over by the expertise and passion in the community to make this happen.
I’m already looking forward to some fabulous events in February!’