Alliance and friends share their stories this Pride Month

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Pride ()

Having an inclusive culture in your sport or activity may just be the difference between someone choosing an active life over one that isn’t.

When people are given a platform to be themselves, a place where they feel safe and included, everyone is able to perform their best, whether that’s in their quest to become a future champion, leading coach or influential figure in the boardroom.

Being an engaged and active ally to the LGBTQ+ community is a huge part of this and this Pride Month, we invited individuals from across the Alliance as well as our friends at GB Snowsport to share their stories and perspectives on why this is so important.

Lisa Wainwright MBE, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance

“Taking the time to understand how the world views and treats certain individuals can have an enormous impact on a person’s life.

“As a proud lesbian woman, I have been incredibly fortunate to have been surrounded by supportive advocates for inclusion, who through their activism and involvement have made me feel confident and comfortable to go on and fulfil some of my biggest achievements in my professional and personal life.

“Being an ally doesn’t require you to be an expert. You can show your support through something as simple as educating yourself on the correct terminology to use when talking to LGBTQ+ people at one of your training sessions or by simply speaking out when you hear something offensive.

“The most important thing is that every single one of us works towards establishing an inclusive sporting culture, not just those that belong to the LGBTQ+ community.

“We must also recognise that being an ally to LGBTQ+ people means acknowledging intersectionality. Standing with LGBTQ+ people of colour, trans and non-binary people and disabled LGBTQ+ individuals is vital so that those whose voices are too often underrepresented across society and across sport can be heard.”

Lisa swimming ()

Adrian Ruth, Sport and Recreation Alliance Board member

“I think I'm a pretty active 48 year-old - camping and walking in Wales last weekend, popping to the Brixton Recreation Centre to swim before work yesterday, cycling across London later today and planning to meet parkrunning friends tomorrow.

“Two thirds of my life ago, I'm not sure 16 year old me would recognise this strangely sporty person.  As a confused teenager back in Belfast, I wasn't yet out as gay but I knew I didn't feel welcome in the very macho world of school team sports. 

“The worlds of sport and outdoor recreation might have remained very remote to me if it weren't for two groups - Leftfooters and OutdoorLads

“The Leftfooters meet every Sunday for a kickabout in Regent's Park, and everyone's welcome. I'd always been terrible at football, and hated it. Yet the inclusive, welcoming atmosphere amongst the Leftfooters transformed my footballing experience - in 2007, I even proudly represented my club at the IGLFA World Championships (the "Gay World Cup") in Buenos Aires.

“OutdoorLads has a similarly friendly, welcoming atmosphere - they run a range of sociable events for gay, bi and trans guys right across the UK - activity-based things like camping, hiking and cycling.

Cycling the Coast-to-Coast route or walking the Milford Track with friends would have been unthinkable if it hadn't been for these groups igniting my active spark.

“I'm now proud to serve as a Non-Executive Director on the board of the Sport and Recreation Alliance - reflecting the passion I now feel for the benefits of everyone living more active lives.

“Having come so close to never discovering this passion, I'm a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in all sporting organisations. 

“It thrills me to see allies like Ben Cohen standing up against homophobia and bullying, and professional footballers wearing Stonewall's "rainbow laces".

“There's so much that we can all do - so please celebrate and embrace diversity in all its forms. Happy Pride Month!

Adrian Ruth ()

Martin Lindsey, Chief Operating Officer at the Sport and Recreation Alliance

“Being an ally to the LGBTQ+ Community is extremely important in driving an organisational culture where individuals can be themselves.  As an LGBTQ+ ally it is key to listen, learn and provide support to ensure a welcoming, safe and inclusive environment.

“I have been extremely lucky to have worked with organisations and individuals during my career to drive and develop inclusive cultures.

“When individuals can be themselves they will perform better and the individual and organisation will thrive.”

Valerie Copenhagen, Chair of the Sport and Recreation Alliance Youth Panel

“The past year has been challenging for everyone and whilst things have changed and we have had to adapt to the ways we work and engage with others - we mustn't forget the importance of understanding and treating individuals positively and fairly. 

“As a youth panel we are always looking for ways to engage, support and work with our friends in our communities so that our work is inclusive, reflective of diverse needs and welcoming for everyone.  

“We recognise Pride Month and know more should and can be done to continue to build an inclusive sporting culture. 

“We invite all youth panels across the sport sector to champion the importance of inclusion and diversity and also identify and welcome opportunities to provide LGBTQ+ communities a chance to share views and experiences. 

“Together we can create a sport sector for existing and future young people that includes all and that we can be proud of. 

Chris Scott, Head of External Relations at GB Snowsport

“We recognise we have a responsibility to show that we unreservedly support the needs of LGBTQ+ people.

“As a sport, we are stronger, better and more successful when we create an environment in which tolerance, respect and advocacy are at the core of our approach. We want to ensure that no LGBTQ+ person should ever feel unwelcome in our sport.

“Throughout Pride Month 2021, we’ve been working to reaffirm our commitment to LGBTQ+ people, and we are determined to ensure that commitment remains known and championed in the months and years to come.”

GB Snowsport ()