Gay Games 9, which starts today in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, will offer thousands of LGBT athletes the opportunity to take part in the first major international survey on homophobia in sports.
They will be supported by Michael Sam of the St Louis Rams, one of the world’s highest profile LGBT athletes, who is urging people to take part in the ground-breaking study. The study is the first to collect data about discrimination in the United States as well as other English-speaking countries, offering a baseline for comparisons between countries and over time. This will help researchers determine both the extent of the problem internationally as well as which countries are doing the best job at creating sports cultures that are welcoming and safe to lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.
Michael Sam appears in a video alongside sports stars from US, UK and Australia. These include British-born rugby players Sam and Tom Burgess, World Cup US/Australian soccer player Sarah Walsh, international rugby player and LGBT rights advocate David Pocock, and ‘Aussie Rules’ player and LGBT rights advocate Brock McLean.
Researchers conducting the “Out on the Fields” study are hoping for at least 500 more people in the United States and the UK to take part in the study to reach their target of 2000 people from each country. The thousands of participants and spectators at Gay Games 9, which run through 16 August, are expected to play a big role in reaching this target. Participants from other countries are welcome, in particular from the large Canadian delegation arriving in Ohio. The study is open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or whether they have played sports. It takes around 10 minutes to complete online at www.outonthefields.com
“We’re supporting this historic study because it has the potential to provide a much clearer understanding of the extent and nature of homophobia in sports. As we prepare for opening ceremony of Gay Games 9, we recall that since their founding by Olympian Dr Tom Waddell more than 30 years ago, the Gay Games have been a powerful tool against homophobia in sport, with thousands of out recreational athletes paving the way for recent high-profile coming outs like those of Michael Sam. But these should not hide how endemic the problem of homophobia remains,” said Les Johnson, Vice-President of Membership of the Federation of Gay Games.
“Everyone has had a unique experience, which is why it is essential that we encourage a large number of LGBT people to share their stories, whether or not they themselves have played sports or experienced discrimination. We encourage everyone at Gay Games 9 to visit our booth at the Festival Village to learn more,” added Johnson.