11 June 2020

In celebration of Pride month, we ask six top sportswomen what it means to them

Every year, during the month of June, the LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride with parades, parties and community events across the world.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, these events cannot take place this year. However, a huge global virtual event is taking place on June 27.

So to mark an unusual Pride month, NewsChain has spoken to sportswomen who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, or are allies to it, to ask what it means to them.

Wheelchair racer and Stonewall champion Lizzie Williams

Williams says Pride goes beyond the month of June (Instagram: @lizziewheelz)

“Of course Pride goes beyond the month of June, it's a part of myself that I get to live and express every day. 

”But there's no denying it's a very exciting time of year and one that I always look forward to.

"It's a special thing to be a part of a global celebration which brings together LGBTQ+ people and allies to celebrate their identities and feel encouraged to be their true and authentic self. 

"I remember going to a Pride parade before I was 100 per cent 'out’, and it was such an overwhelming experience. I just felt home, and I genuinely felt so proud. I wanted to feel like that everyday, and a few months later I met the love of my life and I proudly introduced her to my family/friends.

"I've been pleased to see more and more major brands collaborating with LGBTQ+ organisations to create a collection where with each purchase a contribution is made to the LGBTQ+ organisation. 

“Some might say it is becoming too commercialised, and whilst some companies might jump on the bandwagon only for their own profit, I am glad to see companies embracing pride and working with the community to help celebrate our differences.”

Team GB hockey player Leah Wilkinson

Leah Wilkinson discusses what Pride Month means to her (Frank Uijlenbroek)

"It’s all about celebrating all the different kinds of walks of life and all different kinds of groups of people, it doesn’t necessarily have to be for gay people or for lesbians or for transgender.  

"It should be about celebrating everyone’s individuality and I think that’s quite an important thing, because everyone is important and it doesn’t matter what your sexuality is.

“A lot of people have different views on it and maybe that is why Pride Month is so important and so special because people can celebrate it and what it means to them.”

Wales and Reading midfielder Angharad James

James has said Pride months means 'everything' (PA)

"I think it means everything. As a group of athletes in the environment we’re in, it’s majorly important as footballers we do everything we can to support it. 

"I know a lot of us do the tweets, wear the laces and wear the t-shirts in warm up. I think in women's football and women's sport Pride month is widely accepted and we do the best we can to promote it.

"It’s great, I think, to be at the stage now where everyone is comfortable being who they are. It’s important that we use our platforms to promote that everyone should be deemed equal regardless of race, of anything.

“It's important we use our platforms and promote everybody should be equal.”

Wheelchair racer Kayli English

English has said Pride is a celebration (Peter Milsom Photography)

"As a young queer person, I feel that pride for me is being able to see the physical representation of people who are like me but have completely separate experiences! 

"So I can see older folks that have lived through a different time, with all of the struggles that came with that and are still here and proud. 

“I see people around my age, who have grown up in differing environments with different perspectives! It is about unifying everyone with love and acknowledging our past!”

Firwood Waterloo captain Rachael Thomas

Thomas captains Firwood Waterloo (Gill Burns)

"Pride means giving everyone an equal opportunity to do what they love without being judged, without worrying what other people think.

“I think rugby teams, and sport teams but rugby teams in particular, are good at accepting people no matter what and bringing out the best in them.”

North Carolina Courage defender and World Cup winner Abby Dahlkemper 

Dahlkemper won the World Cup with the US last summer (PA Images)

"I think it's amazing. I have a lot of friends who are gay and I think the ability to express yourself and be open and be happy with who you are and be accepted is what life is about.

“I think that Pride month is awesome.”

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