“I think having a high-profile male gay golfer is really going to help break down those barriers. It’s probably going to help push along modernisation and help clear out some of those old attitudes that still exist.”
Last Updated: 09/12/21 5:06pm
The golfing world constantly attempts to make the sport more inclusive, but could more be done to promote accessibility and equality in the game?
To coincide with this year’s Rainbow Laces campaign, bringing visibility for LGBTQ+ people, the latest Sky Sports Golf podcast focused on the efforts being made within golf to try and make the game more diverse.
Host Josh Antmann was joined by Sky Sports’ Sarah Stirk, Nick Brennan from the Out2Golf society and Jamie Blair – diversity and inclusion manager for England Golf – to discuss the challenges within the game and share their own experiences of the Rainbow Laces campaign.
The full podcast is available now on the Sky Sports Golf podcast, the link above and on most podcast platforms, but here are some of the main talking points discussed…
Listen or subscribe on:
‘We’ve got to celebrate individuality’
England Golf has supported the Rainbow Laces campaign again this year, with Jamie Blair part of the drive to welcome and encourage more LGBTQ+ people to participate in the game.
“The first thing we’re doing now is with visibility,” Blair said. “It’s making sure that people see and hear golf. There are a choice of 1880 golf clubs, 400 driving ranges and short courses across England, let alone in Wales and Scotland and Ireland.
“That visibility they give to the game is important and we have to create discussion, it isn’t about conflict, it’s creating discussion and education. You might not quite able to understand exactly why somebody wants to use a particular pronoun, but you need to respect it and we have to help clubs create that environment where people can be themselves in whatever form that takes.
“The game offers itself to individuality and we’ve got to celebrate that more. Showcase that, within the opportunities that exist in the game, is really about being yourself. I think it comes down to the culture that you have at the club and I think it’s the position that we need to reach out a lot further and we need to connect within local communities.”
‘I don’t think my sexuality defines me’
Sky Sports Golf presenter Sarah Stirk, who first publicly talked about her sexuality in an interview with Attitude Magazine’s Pride issue earlier this year, explains the obstacles she faced before deciding to come out.
“I wish I’d been more open when I was younger,” Stirk said. “Everybody has their own journey, so you can’t say when is the right time to come out and the right time to talk about it.
“Everybody has to do their own individual thing and then they should never feel pressured, but I guess what was important for me was that I wanted to be completely authentic. That’s been a big word for me in my life in the last year.
“I wanted to, for myself more than anything, was just completely put it out there about who I was and not hide anything. I look at my sexuality as kind of one part of me and I don’t think it defines me.
“I felt a bit of responsibility as well. I know Mel Reid speaks a bit about this. As you get older, and I’m about to become a mum, I want to be able to talk about this with my little boy. I want to be able to help kids and give back a bit to the community.
December 16, 2021, 7:00pm
“In the past I’ve just gone about my business and lived my own life. But I am proud of who I am and what I’ve achieved and personally some of the obstacles I’ve overcome so I wanted to give back a little bit”
‘A high-profile gay golfer would break down barriers’
The women’s game has had several openly LGBTQ+ players through the years, although the PGA Tour and DP World Tour have still yet to see someone compete as an openly gay golfer.
“The person needs choose when they come out,” said Brennan, whose Out2Golf Society are a group of LGBT golfers playing in events across the UK. “Whether they are or whether there aren’t probably doesn’t help them, I think what it’s going to do is just bring into people’s focus that there are LGBTQ+ people who also love golf.
“Generally, you quickly know when you talk to people whether they have really strong prejudices about LGBT people or trans people or people from other groups different to them. Once you know someone with similar interests to you but is different to you, that just breaks down so many barriers.
“I think having a high-profile male gay golfer is really going to help break down those barriers. It’s probably going to help push along modernization and help clear out some of those old attitudes that still exist.”
Sky Sports is a member of TeamPride which supports Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, currently receiving its annual activation from November 25 to December 12. Wednesday, December 8, is Rainbow Laces Day.
Your story of being LGBTQ+ or an ally could help to make sport everyone’s game – please contact us here to discuss further.