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Now, following a weekend that saw several rugby teams across the globe support LGBTQ sportsmen and women, the BBC has profiled London’s first gay rugby team with a short news segment.
This past weekend saw four separate teams wear rainbow laces on their respective fields. The England and Australia rugby teams wore them in solidarity with LGBTQ players, while the Welsh and French teams wore them in support of the famed openly gay (former) rugby player Gareth Thomas. Thomas was the victim of a homophobic hate crime last week in his hometown of Cardiff.
As the BBC says in its segment, “The Kings Cross Steelers have players of all abilities, ages and backgrounds [including some straight allies], and for many of the players it’s more than just a team. It’s giving them a chance to talk about their lives.”
One player, Oliver Clark (who plays in the “wing” position), speaks of how important joining the gay rugby team was for him at a certain point in his life. “I broke up with my ex-boyfriend and I basically lost all my friends in the process,” he says. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I need to do something and get involved.’ So I joined the Steelers and made so many friends, and it’s literally been a life-changing event. It really has.”
The allure of joining a gay rugby team is rather obvious, according to Ryan Stults, who plays in the “lock” position: “It’s a really supportive environment. It’s been a really good opportunity to learn to grow and to make new friends. You know, it’s a group of gay guys, so it removes that element of whatever awkwardness that might make on another team.”
“If I’ve got a problem I know that I can message my boys and get help,” Clark says. “If I need to talk about something, they are there for me every single time, so it’s just amazing.”