To this day, I am not sure whether I am innately bad at sports or I was just scared to pursue them.
A thought that was hard to escape this week. The Tokyo Olympics have been everywhere. There are currently an amazing 168 LGBTQIA+ athletes competing. If openly LGBT+ Olympians were a country, they would rank 14th.
“I hope that any young LGBT+ person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone,” he said. “You can achieve anything.”
Critics - of course - have questioned why his sexuality relates to his Olympic gold medal. But talking about sexuality and gender in sport is essential.
One of my earliest experiences of trauma was in the changing rooms of P.E. in high school. During university, when friends asked me to go to the gym or join sports teams with them, this is the memory that kept me from accepting their invitation.
For so many queer kids, the changing room is a place of fear and trauma. It’s the first experience I had of self-policing: I only felt safe looking at my own feet.
There is an accurate cliché: shame gives you bad posture.
My childhood showed me that being queer was incompatible with being in any sports environment. All sports teams were only teams for straight people. But despite my sports career being over before it began, stories of queer Olympians give me hope. Sport and exercise contribute to mental and physical health - and queer kids need that more than anyone.
LGBTQIA+ people face more challenges accessing sport than ever. Chelsea Mitchell, Veronica Ivy, Laurel Hubbard, Leyna Bloom, Quinn, and many, many more are at the forefront of this fight. Indeed in the ongoing 'culture war' that's putting trans athletes in the middle.
Queerness and sport should not be mutually exclusive - but for millions of kids, they are. Tom Daley shouting out to queer kids matters. LGBTQIA+ representation in sports matters.
This content was funded by our members and produced by emerging queer creative Matilda.
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