Sports Media LGBT and its founder, Jon Holmes hosted a series of panel discussions on October 16th featuring LGBTQI athletes from all over the world to share their stories about being LGBTQI in sports and how it has influenced their careers and lives.

The event, dubbed #AuthenticMe, was hosted at Twitter UK’s London Headquarters near Piccadilly Circus and included over 120 attendees. The topics of discussion includes being out at the Olympic Games, sharing stories in sport and how football (soccer) is becoming more inclusive via efforts of players, coaches, administrators, broadcasters and fans.

There were a series of panels featuring various LGBTQI sports people serving in many roles throughout the community to share their story and participate in the discussion. The first panel included Matthew Mitcham who won the gold medal in diving at the 2008 Olympics, Susannah Townsend who was part of Team GB’s gold medal hockey team at the 2016 Olympics and Michael Gunning who is a hopeful for the 2020 Olympics. The panel was hosted by Beth Fisher who took part in the first edition of #AuthenticMe in 2018 and is currently a correspondent for ITV Wales Sport.

Other panels included various guests of different LGBTQI sports teams, clubs, competition organizers who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, and intersex who shared their stories of successes and triumphs, but also of challenges with mental health, coming out, and hiding themselves. Jack Murley who hosts BBC’s The LGBT Sport Podcast hosted a panel discussion and highlighted the importance of sharing stories and representation for further inclusivity in sports.

The goal for #AuthenticMe is to highlight how being your “authentic self” can boost sports performance. To reflect on the role that being yourself, accepting yourself and living your life free and open can help build self-confidence, strength and courage. This in turn helps to drive athletes to shed themselves of the fear and pain, instead choosing to embrace oneself channel that energy into putting forward their best effort into their performance.

Additionally, this helps to promote and advance equality in sports by creating an environment of self-confidence and inclusion which will help change and grow sports as an inclusive place for LGBTQI people to be a part of. The event was celebrated with positive reception from attendees, panelists, guests and everyone alike. Find more information about #AuthenticMe here!

By Dirk Smith