Timeline of UK LGBT Sport

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Timeline of UK LGBT Sport

In many ways 2011 was a watershed for LGBT sports in the UK. LGBT History Month 2011 and 2012 were focused on sports in recognition of the London 2012 Olympic Games, so it seemed a very appropriate time to look back at the progress of gay sport in the UK.

If your UK LGBT sports club is not featured on the graphic, enter the information below.

Manchester Sports Timeline launch

Location: Taurus Bar, Canal St, Manchester
Time: 6:30pm prompt
Guest Speaker: Councillor Bev Craig

In celebration of LGBT History Month 2012, which in this Olympic year had a focus on sports, a 12 month project to capture the detailed histories of UK LGBT sports groups and clubs to create a comprehensive history timeline was launched at Taurus Friday 17 February 2012.

All Northern LGBT sports groups and clubs were invited to come along and support this launch, which was supported by the North West LGBT group of the public sector trade union UNISON, Northern Wave, the UK LGBT Sports Network, Pride Sports, and Canal-St.co.uk.

As Trevor Burchick MBE, Chair of Northern Wave, explained:
“This valuable project offers the North’s LGBT sports groups a unique opportunity to make sure each Club’s history is recorded completely and accurately, so as to inspire future generations of LGB and T sporting people to build an exciting future sporting future for generations to come”.


1919 14-year-old Lily Parr is “talent-spotted” by the manager of a women’s football team at the Dick, Kerr and Co munitions factory in Preston, Lancashire. Parr quickly becomes a star player and stays with the team until 1950, scoring over 900 goals. Parr was the only woman in the inaugural list of the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame in 1992. The annual Lily Parr Exhibition Trophy was established during LGBT History Month 2007.


1926 Betty ‘Joe’ Carstairs becomes the fastest woman on water when she wins the Duke of York’s trophy. Known for her eccentric lifestyle (having tattoos and keeping penguins) as much as for her love of speed, Betty had a string of affairs with, among others, Marlene Deitrich and Oscar Wilde’s niece, Dolly.


1936 British javelin and shot put record holder, Mark Weston, completes gender reassignment surgery. As Mary Weston it is claimed she was an Olympian, though no record of her competing is found. It arises from a misunderstanding - Mary competed in the Women’s World Games which were originally called the Women’s Olympics.



1956 Gay yacht designer Christopher ‘Kim’ Holman wins the Pattinson Cup at the Burnham Week Regatta with his 20-foot sloop. He goes on to design dozens of other winning yachts, and cofounds the Suffolk Yacht Harbour marina, and is member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

1958 John Menlove Edwards, the leading British rock-climber of the inter-war years, commits suicide at the age of 57. A psychiatrist by profession, he struggled with depression, the limitations imposed on his research ideas, and the isolation he felt of being gay when it was still illegal.



1976 Gay Outdoor Club (GOC) formed.

1976 Angela Eagle (later a Labour politician) is joint winner of the British Girls' Under-18 chess championship.

1976 Goslings Swimming Club formed. Now the club includes badminton.

'1976 UK’s ice skaterJohn Curry wins gold and comes first – twice – at the Winter Olympics – Innsbruck, Austria. At a press conference he confirms rumours of his sexuality becoming the first Olympian to come out while the games are in progress. He is awarded the OBE in the Birthday Honours. Beside Curry on the medal podium is bronze winner Toller Cranston, who is inspired by Curry to come out later.

1977 CAGS Tennis Group formed in Croydon.


1980 Sailing and Cruising Association is formed in London, a club for sailing and boating enthusiasts.

1982 British athletes attend the first ever Gay Games in San Francisco. UK athletes and sports groups have attended every Gay Games, World OutGames and EuroGames since. Multi-sport events have been the catalyst for the growth of the gay sports movement worldwide throughout the last 30 years.

1983 Long Yang Club forms; originally a general social group for Asians and non-Asians, it later became mainly a tennis and badminton club for Asian and Western members in London

1986 Ted Tinling inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame

1989 Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) forms


1990 London Raiders Softball Club starts in Hyde Park on Sunday afternoons (originally called Rainbow Raiders)

1990 Out to Swim is the first gay swimming club formed by athletes returning from Gay Games

1991 Stonewall FC is the first gay football club to form

1992 Carl Hester represents the Team GB Equestrian and attends the Barcelona Olympics.

1992 Dynamo Dykes Volleyball Club forms

1994 British Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation forms to unite gay sports clubs

1994 death of John Curry, 1974 Olympic ice Skating Gold medallist

1995 London Frontrunners formed

1995 Kings Cross Steelers first Gay Rugby Club formed

1995 Streatham Storm women's ice hockey is formed

1995 London Spikers Volleyball Club formed

1996 Village Manchester FC is formed – Manchester's first LGBT sports club

1996 Ishigaki jujitsu club is formed

1996 Leicester Wildecats FC is formed

1996 Grace's Cricket Club is formed

1996 CycleOut formed

1996 The Team Manchester NHS project began researching LGBT Sports as a means to tackle heart disease

1997 Brighton Lesbian & Gay Sports Society forms to unite Brighton Sports groups

1997 Irons Golf formed

1998 Nine new LGBT sports groups, including Northern Wave Swimming Club are launched under the Team Manchester banner

1998 Village Spartans RUFC formed

1998 Bowling Bears formed

1998 Justin Fashanu, Britain's first out gay footballer, commits suicide after nearly a decade of hounding by the UK press. His story affected a whole generation of gay athletes and there has still not been another leading footballer to come out in this country since.

1999 Out for Sport London is formed and hold first multi-sports day at Crystal Palace

1999 Sue Emerson becomes first European Female Copresident of the Federation of Gay Games

1999 Leftfooters FC founded

1999 Northern Ace Tennis Club founded


2000 The first UK Gay Sports Festival was held in Waltham Forest. The opening ceremony was graced by the Beverley Sisters and the cultural festival was headlined by Bucks Fizz. The festival was organised by Waltham Forest Local Authority and a consortium of gay sports groups, who were led by FGG Co-president Sue Emerson. The highlight of the weekend was the dance sport competition, which was completely sold out with a capacity of 250 people.

2000 Lee Pearson, Team GB Equestrian Paralympian wins 1st Paralympic Gold

2000 Northern Flight Badminton Club forms

2000 Orion Rowing Club forms

2001 Trina Gulliver wins the first of a total of nine World Darts Championship titles

2001 London LGB Gymnastics & Diving forms

2002 London Orca established

2002 Michael Hill, motorcyclist launches Taboo Motor Racing

2003 Northern Wave organises the north's first international multi-sport festival at EuroPride Manchester

2004 Robert Newton Britain's number one sprint hurdler, competes for Team GB at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Newton failed to qualify for the second round of the 110 m hurdles competition. He was the only gay British Olympian that year.

2004 Chris Morgan, Great Britain and England Powerlifter qualifies for first world final and is appointed Gay Games Ambassador

2005 Out for Sport London hosts "The Building Bridges Conference", was intended to heal rifts between the Federation of Gay Games and the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association. The event was hosted by Ivan Bussens who helped the two major gay sports governing bodies come together to overcome their differences and discuss the future of gay sports.

2005 Northern Wave and Team Manchester launch the first ever 'Pride Games', which took place in Manchester and was attended by 750 participants. There has since been Pride Sports events held every year, hosting thousands of athletes from all over the world. Founder of Pride Games Trevor Burchick was awarded an MBE in the new year's honours list the same year for services to the community of Greater Manchester.

2005 London Titans FC formed

2005 Sir Elton John appointed Gay Games Ambassador

2005 Bristol Bisons RFC is formed

2006 Nottingham Ball Bois FC is formed

2006 Bristol Cycle Out form

2006 BBC Sports presenter Clare Balding comes out by marrying partner in civil partnership ceremony

2006 Trevor Burchick and Lou Englefield form Pride Sports, to deliver future Pride Games and develop LGBT sports in Manchester

2007 Sion O'Conner becomes male co-president of Federation of Gay Games

2007 John Amaechi, British NBA Basketball Star Comes Out, appointed Gay Games Ambassador, awarded OBE in 2011

2007 death of Ivan Bussens, founder of Out for Sport London

2007 Nigel Owens, International Rugby Referee, Comes Out

2007 The World's first LGBT Youth Games is held at Pride Games Manchester

2007 The English Football Association for the first time forms a Working Group to tackle Homophobia in Soccer. They decide to launch new ground regulations, which ban homophobic abuse on the terraces and give powers to stewards to remove offenders. The following year the Gay community are invited to watch England v Czech Republic football match by The FA.

2008 The Justin Campaign against homophobia in sport is launched in Justin Fashanu's memory 10 years after his death.

2008 The first annual LGBT Sports Summit is held in Manchester, launching the UK LGBT Sports Network

2009 Pride Sports host the European Lesbian and Gay Sports Federation (EGLSF) annual assembly and Lou Englefield becomes female copresident of EGLSF

2009 Gay Games and GLISA announce their commitment to working towards 1 Quadrennial Event (1QE) for 2018 at the Manchester EGLSF general assembly

2009 Professional rugby player Gareth Thomas comes out whilst still playing at international level for Wales. He became Wales's most capped player in 2007 and captained the British Lions during their 2005 tour of South Africa. Gareth's coming out once again raised the issue of team sports and in particular, raised the questions when would the first UK footballer come out of the closet?


2010 Sheffield Eagles become first semi professional rugby league team to wear an anti-homophobia message in a televised match.

2010 London announces bid for Gay Games/OutGames 2018.

2010 Stonewall FC wins gold at Cologne Gay Games, Raider women win bronze in Softball. Over 850 UK athletes attend and come home with a hoard of medals.

2011 Graham Obree, Team Great Britain and Commonwealth Games cyclist comes out.

2011 Aslie Pitter, founder of Stonewall Football Club, is awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours List.

2011 Ben Cohen, Rugby World Cup Winner with England back in 2003 'comes out' as a straight ally to the gay community and launches the Stand up Foundation against homophobic bullying. Ben was honoured with a major humanitarian award in the US by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

2011 Claire Harvey, patron of London 2018, is selected for Great Britain Sitting Volleyball Team.

2011 Stonewall FC wins gold at Cologne Gay Games, Raiders Women win bronze.

2011 Steven Davies, England cricketer, comes out whilst still playing international cricket. Steven made his debut for England in March 2009 in twenty /twenty cricket and then went on to make his full test debut in October of the same year. He is the first international cricketer to come out as gay.

2011 LGBT athletes are invited to Downing Street to launch the government charter against homophobia and transphobia in sport. Billy Jean King, Gareth Thomas and Ben Cohen attended the event, with the Rugby Football League, Rugby Football Union, Lawn Tennis Association, English Cricket Board and the English Football Association all sign up to the charter.

2011 The Midlands Unity League created, an 11-a-side football league for gay community football clubs in the Midlands founded by Birmingham Blaze FC, Leicester Wildecats FC, Nottingham Ball Bois FC and Wolverhampton Harts GFC.

2012 LGBT History Month for both 2011 and 2012 are for the first time focused on Gay Sports. The launch event for 2011 takes place at Twickenham and is attended by Gareth Thomas and John Amaechi. The launch event for 2012 takes place at the Oval Cricket ground and is attended by equalities minister Lynne Featherstone.

2012 Premier league football teams sign government's Charter Against Homophobia and Transphobia in sport.

Author of the LGBT Sports Timeline infographic

Chris Morgan is the author of the UK LGBT History Month Sports Timeline (1982-2012). He is a four time world champion, seven time British champion and six time Gay Games gold medallist in Powerlifting and one of the Global Ambassador's to the Federation of Gay Games. http://www.chunkymuscle.com and http://www.gaygames.com

Thanks to both Trevor Burchick and Lou Englefield of Pride Sports for their help and input to this project. You can learn more about Pride Sports online at http://www.pridesports.org. Infographic and further research by Jonathan Harbourne, co-chair of London 2018 and founder of the London Raidershttp://www.london2018.info.

You can download a high resolution PDF (15MB) of the infographic to use to promote LGBT sport at: http://www.london2018.info/history/LGBTsport.html (click on the graphic to download). It has been designed to fit the size of a pull-up banner stand – celebrate LGBT History Month with a Sports Timeline banner in the reception of your office! You may freely use and publish this infographic as a whole, without editing, so long as you keep the authors’ full credit.

See also

Timeline of UK LGBT History