As an athlete, you don’t want the attention of it. Athletes feel like they are being defined for being gay, like they’re ‘the gay one’ on the team. At the end of the day it shouldn’t matter, but first of all, there has to be someone on the team who makes it normal. I don’t want to have attention for it, but I feel someone has to start the conversation. I know there’s still homophobia in sports and around hockey clubs. So if you manage to reach some people and get them to understand that it’s not OK to judge people, and no one should feel entitled to judge someone, then you’ve done something right.
Out For The Win aims to normalise LGBTQI people in sports and empower youth to feel comfortable in their own skin, by increasing the visibility of the LGBTQI community in all sports and sportclubs through storytelling
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In my sports club people don’t really talk about LGBTs. We are engaged in our sport and are therefore focused on the goals we are trying to achieve. At the moment, I’m focused on the World Cup in Dubai in November 2019. The performances we achieved there are particularly important for qualifying for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020.
The year 2016 was a turning point for me in sport, as I received a lot of media attention when Marjorie proposed to me during the Olympics in Rio. Since then, I’ve become more aware of the impact sports can have and the platform I have as an athlete to stand up for certain causes. I hope to continue to make my family and country proud, and use rugby to show women and girls that we are strong and resilient.
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Despite the growing acceptance of gays and transgenders, the sports community remains a very difficult environment to be out. The American documentary ‘Alone in the Game’ shows the ongoing struggles LGBTQ athletes face at different levels. On 31 January, you can see this moving documentary at Sphinx cinema in Gent (Belgium) followed by a debate with pro athletes and policy makers.