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Sporting Sexuality: Why We Need More LGBTQ+ Representation in Sports

Content warning: Sexuality, Homophobia

When I was younger, I often went to Old Trafford games with my dad as many kids did and still do. I would adore watching the game, hearing the people sing songs, cheering whenever anything happened, throwing myself about if Wayne Rooney or Chicorito scored a wonder goal. I loved the whole atmosphere and the love and enjoyment of the team.

But there were also times where I can recall fans in the stands screaming and shouting homophobic/racist chants at players and officials. Of course, this is not a one-off thing as it can still be heard to this day. Many a time I would go to the game and hear different versions of the same outlandish behaviour be spread. Obviously, hearing this language yelled from the stands with malice as a teenager was quite daunting whilst having LQBTQIA+ friends. Sadly as the game has evolved the fans haven’t and still continue to commit the same offences on and of the pitch with instances still going on to this day Homophobic slurs

Although these big campaigns such as rainbow armbands and laces and clubs speaking up, derogatory gay slurs are still very commonly heard on most of the football grounds around the world. The FA has stated multiple time to lots of sources it is very “committed to taking on homophobia, transphobia, and others at every level of its game.” But repeatedly punishes players who try and spread a message with a top underneath their football top by providing them with a medal or even giving them a ban. Stating it is too political in the game which is where it should be shown. Then going on to investigate certain instances of things said on the pitch to then be brushed over with not enough evidence on homophobic slurs.

There is now many different examples of gay women and men that have gone onto and achieved remarkable things within sports. Megan Rapinoe, Robbie Rogers, Gavin Tomas, the list could go further. Although most of these sports adults do not come out until after they have left the sport. But there are cases of huge breakthroughs where sports people come out when they are playing, and it breaks the news. This is starting to mark a shift in sports towards more acceptance and inclusivity.

The general hope around coming out in sport is that the support around it will give some further confidence to many other sportspeople that had been scared or not ready to come out. The more traction this gains the more role models there will be, the more LGBT community representation there will be in sports from the ground up, giving more confidence to little kids that just want to be accepted and play sports without the huge issues around weighing on their backs.

As can be seen from the above image the pattern discrimination in sports can create this sort of cycle. Where a child starts hearing the slurs at an early age. Then hearing people laugh and react to the slurs that are being said with a positive response. Creating a thing in their mind where they perceive it as normal. Then just trying to blend in with the crowd or stay below the radar. And then repeating the whole cycle with their future children. Medias are now trying to rectify this mistake with large campaigns and posters and adverts all around the world.

Key messages


Evidence within surveys have shown that gender stereotypes have contributed to lots of young women dropping out of sports events because women in sport are usually viewed as being masculine. Very much like men, who do not fill the “masculine “have shown to have been feeling intimidated and excluded from sports participation.


A lot of gay, lesbian, or bisexual people have hidden their sexuality from their club/team and have reported feeling very shunned. Gay men are usually most likely to be made to feel unsafe and are less likely to play team sports. Most people report frequent homophobic and vulgar slurs, highly when playing team sports.


Australia put forward a sex discrimination act stating that children aged twelve or under will not be excluded purely based on their sex or gender identity from participating in competitive sports. People that are aged over twelve are allowed to be excluded if their strength, stamina, or stature of competition is relevant.


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