Around the world, there are sports clubs created and run by LGBTQI people, for the specific reason to foster LGBTQI health and well-being. Anything from football, to swimming, rugby and tennis, these sports clubs are a safe, and competitive, place to make friends with a similar passion and background.
But why are there gay sports club? And why would I want to be in one?
Why do gay groups exist?
In Sydney, Australia, until the late 70s, it was common-place for gays and lesbians to be harassed by the police. Many were beaten and incarcerated, their only crime being an attraction to the same gender.
Also occurring during this time were dozens of gay hate crimes. Many innocent gay men, but the police refused to investigate, often siting these deaths as accidental or self-inflicted. Homophobia was rife in the police force; many gay and lesbians were persecuted by the very people who were meant to protect and help them.
LGBTQI community groups formed, including those in sport. Sports clubs became safe places where like-minded people could meet and compete in sport without fear of discrimination.
Gay tennis clubs
Tennis Sydney became one of those very organisations. It started in the early 1980s by Peter Deacon and some other tennis enthusiasts. Later in the 1990s, Craig Hunt created ‘The Virginia Slims’, a competitive gay competition for tennis.
Today, the club boasts hundreds of members and is one of the largest gay and lesbian sports organisations in the southern hemisphere.
Peter Deacon, national squash champion, also one of the founding members of the Australian gay tennis scene.
What is the GLTA?
The Gay and Lesbian Tennis Association (GLTA) is now the world’s governing body. It oversees and extraordinary network of LGBTQI tennis tournaments around the world. Clubs like Tennis Sydney will run a GLTA tournament, where players from around the world can to compete for world tour points, which is similar to the professional women’s and men’s tour.
Why get involved
Most people who take part in these clubs and events form lifelong friendships. If you play within your club, you have an immediate network. Travel to a city in another country, you make friends from all over the place. Relocate to another country, you’ll have an immediate friendship group. What these clubs offer, in terms of competitive sport, friendships and community is quite extraordinary.
Most clubs cater to all levels – all you need is a desire to engage and a passion for the sport. The benefits of these clubs is immeasurable.