This Sunday marks International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. On this day, over 130 countries around the world draw attention to the various forms of discrimination and violence that the LGBTQ community continue to experience. It serves as a reminder each year of the work which is still needed to achieve LGBTQ equality. David Sleight, a Partner and ally, at Kingsley Napley shares his experience below.
At Kingsley Napley, we have a mixed-gender touch rugby team and an LGBTQ+ and Allies Network. As a proud member of both groups, I decided that I would wear rainbow laces for one of our rugby matches to demonstrate my allegiance and support. A true ally, I thought.
In truth, I also thought the colourful laces would make me stand out on the pitch. They did. I scored two tries and after the match one of my colleagues, who identifies as LGBTQ, told me she was “really impressed” and particularly appreciated that I had worn the laces. I must admit, at the post-match debrief in the pub I was feeling pretty smug.
The next day I went to train at my local rugby club. As I approached the club gates I suddenly remembered the rainbow laces. OMG I hadn’t taken them out! What would my laddish, all male team mates think if they saw me wearing rainbow laces? Would they think I was gay? Would they take the p**s? How would I deal with “the banter”? Maybe I should just put my normal laces back in before anyone sees?
And then it hit me. I had just had a tiny glimpse into what the LGBTQ+ community have to deal with every day. I was worried about seeing my team mates, who I have known for years, at my own rugby club, because of what they might think of my rainbow laces. I had had the narrowest of insights of what it might be like to be judged for your identity and sexuality, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it because I wasn’t sure how people would treat me. I didn’t like that it made me question myself and what I stand for. I didn’t like that it made me feel like a fraud who had been exposed: A fair-weather ally.
Thinking of the disapproving look of my previously “impressed” colleague, I decided to keep the laces on and tentatively stepped on to the pitch. Much to my surprise no one said anything at all, the entire evening, not even “nice laces”. If someone had said something homophobic, even jokingly, I would like to think I would have called them out on it. But would I? It’s definitely easier when you are not the one in the spotlight.
This small insight gave me pause to reflect on my ally status. Am I someone that just talks the talk when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and issues, or do I truly walk the walk?
This Sunday, I intend to stand (albeit remotely) alongside my LGBTQ friends and colleagues for the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. It’s a chance to call out inequality, wear your rainbow laces and be proud to be part of the LGBTQ community, no matter which team you play for.