LGBT Sports Podcast at 200: Jessica Andrade, Gareth Thomas, Jack Dunne and other memorable episodes



Guests on the LGBT sports podcast included former Lions captain Gareth Thomas, UFC champion Jessica Andrade and Leinster lock Jack Dunne

There was the cricket match that made history. The hero of September 11th who inspired the biggest amateur rugby tournament in the world. The Formula 1 world champion who spoke as an LGBTQ + ally. And the elite referee who shared his story publicly for the first time.

The LGBT Sport podcast has covered all of these stories – and many more – in its 200 episodes. Choosing your most memorable moments is therefore quite a challenge.

When we released our very first podcast on September 25, 2018, with a basic and only general understanding of how to fit episodes into a person’s feed, we didn’t know how long we would be there.

Yet over the next three years, we’ve covered countless stories in over 40 sports.

Paralympic gold medalist, F1 champion and elite referee

Jacques child
Super League referee James Child spoke to the podcast as part of LGBT + History Month in February this year

We watched the first game in the world between two LGBTQ + cricket teams, the important work in the fight against homophobia by inclusive football fan groups, and the first transgender athlete represent the United States in international competitions.

And we had Sebastian Vettel appears as guest to tell us why he was defending LGBTQ + rights.

We spoke to Paralympic gold medalists like Briton Lauren Rowles, heard what it is winning a World Cup against the Wasps and the great Englishwoman Claire Purdy, and found out how the best sports journalists got their break in the industry.

We took the show on the road to Hall of Fame training sessions and inductions, and tried to tackle issues such as mental health and discrimination.

We gave officials such as James Child rugby league top referee the opportunity to share their stories for the first time, and top UK athletes such as trampolinist Luke Strong a chance to authentically present ourselves to a global audience – and through it all, we had a lot of fun.

“Having these stories out there is so powerful”

When we first started the podcast, our only certainty was the lingering feeling that now was the time to try a show like this.

A lot has changed since that first episode, but the spirit of the podcast remains the same.

Each guest is involved in sport at some level and has a connection to the LGBTQ + community.

We discuss their life and career, as well as their sexuality or gender identity.

And along the way, we’re trying to show members of the LGBTQ + community who have always felt unwelcome in sport that yes, it does have a place for you.

As one online reviewer put it, “You’re making a big change, and having these stories out there is so powerful. “

So whether you’ve just discovered us or been with us for a long time, here are five of the most memorable moments from the last 200 episodes.

The one with Jack Dunne

Jack Dunne
Jack Dunne of Leinster studied theoretical physics at Trinity College Dublin

Jack Dunne is no ordinary rugby player.

Standing 6-foot-7 and keen on astrophysics, the Leinster forward appeared on the podcast in June to speak publicly for the first time about his bisexuality.

The Irishman was already in contact with his family and teammates and was quietly working with the charity ShoutOut to support LGBTQ + youth in Ireland.

In a special show Scheduled to coincide with the Leinster pride panel, Dunne explained why inspiring others who might be in the same position convinced him to share his story.

“I kind of realized [I was bisexual] when I was maybe 16, ”Dunne recalls.

“Finally, I think I was in sixth grade and I told a couple of people about it and they took it really well. So I was like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to tell everyone. the world.’

“And who knows? Maybe there are kids across the country who could also serve as role models.”

The one with Jessica Andrade

Jessica andrade
Brazilian Jessica Andrade was the UFC strawweight champion from May to August 2019

Coming out can be scary, even if you are one of the toughest women on the planet.

Jessica Andrade is a former UFC strawweight champion and has won more fights than any other fighter in the history of the competition.

But in a powerful episode that examines the legacy of the promotion first match between two non-combatants, the Brazilian summed up the internal struggle that many LGBTQ + people struggle with before going out.

“My biggest fear in life was that my mother wouldn’t accept me,” Andrade admitted.

“But after she did it, everything else wasn’t a problem. Now I’m really proud to be an LGBT role model, not just for the athletes but for everyone.

“You can get out of poverty and reach for heaven. If you love who you are, you can do anything.”

The one with Queer Surf Club

Frazer riley
Frazer Riley created Queer Surf Club in an effort to challenge attitudes within the sport

Imagine finding a sport you love and then having to hide who you are to play it.

This is what happened to Frazer Riley and her boyfriend when they signed up for surf lessons while on a trip to Morocco.

“We didn’t know it was illegal to be gay there”, Riley remembers.

“We had to pretend to be cousins. So I played this amazing sport that I loved, but I wondered if I was clapping or sounding like effeminate.”

The pain of having to hide his identity inspired Riley to create Queer Surf Club – a space where LGBTQ + surfers can be themselves, in and out of the water.

Members have held sessions across the UK – and in an episode taped at a Cornish beach, Riley explained how the club is helping to change perceptions of what it means to be a surfer.

“I remember receiving my first direct message from an individual in Australia,” he said. “They weren’t dating, but they had known they had been gay for a number of years.

“They never believed they could be themselves in the surf, but they said we gave them hope.

“So even though we just helped this person get comfortable, that’s enough.”

The one with Gareth Thomas

Gareth Thomas with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Gareth Thomas spoke to the LGBT Sport Podcast in February about living with HIV – and his desire to dispel his myths

Gareth Thomas’ story was well known by the time the former British and Irish Lions captain appeared on the podcast.

The double-coded rugby legend turned out to be gay in 2009 – then, a decade later, posted a video on social media announcing he was living with HIV.

But knowing what the Welshman had been through didn’t make his words any less punchy.

“I didn’t know anything about HIV [when I was diagnosed], ” Thomas told us.

“I thought all the strength would slowly drain away from me, without me being able to get it back. I thought I was going to live a very sad existence where I would become weaker and weaker and paler, until what I die. “

After the success of the Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin, Thomas was determined to use his platform – and the podcast – to champion the progress that had been made in the fight against the virus and to challenge the stigma that still exists around him.

“I take one pill a day and am undetectable which means you cannot trace the virus in my blood,” he said.

“Living with HIV in 2021 is just not like it was in the 1980s.”

That of the Bingham Cup

Alice hoagland
Alice Hoagland, the mother of Mark Bingham, has been integral in the growth of the world’s largest amateur rugby tournament, named in honor of her son

Of all the stories we’ve told over the past three years, Mark Bingham’s is arguably the most powerful.

A gay rugby player passionate about opening the game to all, Bingham was on board United Flight 93 when it was hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001.

The plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, killing everyone on board.

A 2004 report commissioned by the US government found that Bingham was one of the passengers who led an on-board uprising that was about to regain control when the plane crashed.

Despite their grief, Bingham’s teammates – as well as his mother Alice – were determined to honor his legacy.

In 2002 the Bingham Cup was born – and in the years that followed the event grew into a sporting spectacle that is now the biggest amateur rugby tournament in the world.

Tom Crotty, a member of the Sydney Convicts team that won the Bingham Cup in 2018, explained to us What made him so special.

“We were all in the hangar before that last game, and our coach asked us to take a moment to think about why we were there to play rugby,” said Crotty.

“And one by one we went around and talked about our personal experience including some of the boys who made it clear why they personally decided to fight alongside us.

“It is an incredible feeling to attend an international event and to be connected with these people from all over the world, not only through your love for the sport, but also through who you are.”

The BBC’s LGBT Sport podcast scores 200 episodes this week. You can listen to new shows every Wednesday on BBC Sounds.



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