How Social Media Is Becoming a Safe Space for Aspiring LGBTI+ Athletes

April 3, 2020

 

                    Credit: Flickr

 

The world of sport has always been a space of contention for LGBTI+ athletes. A study by Adelaide's Flinders University found that nearly 40 percent of respondents who participate in sports "have felt unsafe or vulnerable in a sporting environment as a result of their gender identification or sexuality". The good news is that attitudes are gradually changing and becoming more inclusive, which can be partially attributed to the power of social media. Daydreaming in Paradise’s article on social media influencers describes their crucial role in bringing awareness to certain issues in a global context. For instance, posts on popular apps like Instagram have the ability to reach members of the LGBTI+ community, showing them that they are not alone in their struggles. With that in mind, here are some ways social media plays a key role in promoting sport within the LGBTI+ community.

 

On a professional level, there is a number of LGBTI+ athletes who use their fame as an avenue to come out about their sexuality, creating a sense of community and solidarity. Gus Kenworthy is an Olympic skier, who tweeted a picture of himself on the cover of ESPN Magazine with the words, "I am gay." He later posted on Facebook that he had been afraid to embrace his sexuality for most of his life. However, he added that he had recently gotten to the point where the pain of holding onto the lie became greater than the fear of coming out and letting go. Surely, many of his followers could relate to his words.

 

Another great example is Katie Sowers, who is known as the first openly gay and female assistant coach taking part in the Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers. Because she was previously rejected for a volunteer coaching position due to her "lifestyle", she used her platform to promote inclusivity for LGBTI+ members.