With the imminent arrival of an international posse of Lycra clad hotties to our shores, Chris Jepson did the rounds of some of London’s very own gay sports clubs to bring you the A-Z of shuttlecocks and cox, how to get fit or even get a fittie.
Our most famous gay sports team, Stonewall Football Club was set up in 1991 after a gay amateur footballer put an advert in a gay publication for like-minded people to contact him, and became the first gay men’s football club in the UK. The Club is now the highest ranked and most successful gay football club in the World, with over 60 playing members spanning three teams.
Proudly Sponsored by Barclays, Stonewall Football Club welcomes players of all abilities, regardless of their sexual orientation. They pride themselves on finding the appropriate level at which everyone can play, have a First Team currently in the FA Middlesex League, part of the FA Football League Pyramid, a Second Team in the West End Sunday League and a Third Team in the London Unity League.
The Club also competes in the Gay Games (which, whilst for legal reasons can’t be called the Gay Olympics) and has won Gold in Sydney (2002) Chicago (2006) and Cologne (2010), and has recently returned from Budapest where they were crowned Gay European Champions for the eighth time. They have also won the Gay World Championship eight times, most recently in Cologne in 2010.
Domestically, SFC has won the FA Middlesex County Football League Cup once and finished runners-up in the Middlesex County Football League Division One twice, an incredible achievement for a gay football club to compete and succeed in so high a mainstream football league. This success was honoured when one of their founder players, Aslie Pitter, was awarded an MBE in recognition of the club’s achievements on their twentieth anniversary in 2011.
Hopefully the Olympics will inspire people to take up sport and get fit – and any keen QX reader can join SFC as they are currently in our pre-season training every Thursday night for two hours. As it is pre-season, focus is very much on getting fit and they always welcome new players and members regardless of their abilities – so come down! www.stonewallfc.com.
Although Stonewall are the UKs best known and most successful footy squad, there are also quite a few others in London catering for everyone from the über competative through to the Sunday social knockabout.
London Titans FC, founded in 2005, are a friendly, mixed ability, progressive, gay friendly football club with an emphasis on coaching to improve skills, and a strong social element. Sponsored by South London’s premiere cabaret bar, The Two Brewers, membership ranges from semi-pros to complete novices with regular training is on Sunday afternoons as well as a weekday evening 5-a-side session. The club is part of the GFSN National League and takes part in friendly matches and tournaments up and down the country and occasionally overseas. www.londontitans.com
Leftfooters FC is a fun based football team made up mainly of gay and lesbian players. They play every Sunday afternoon in Regents Park, and have a laid back approach of ‘jumpers-for-goalposts’ with the overriding philosophy that if you can’t play football to save your life then you’ll be perfect for them! So for a casual kick-around, they are a top choice – and as they are sponsored by the Black Cap they have a great local too. www.leftfooters.org.uk
At 20 years old, Out To Swim is the UK’s foremost swimming, water polo and synchro club for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people and their friends (straight men and women also very welcome). Many of their 400+ members participate in competition at national and international events and create an environment in which LGBT men and women feel welcome and comfortable. They have even completed a cross channel swim and carried the Olympic Torch. All are welcome to join Out to Swim, from beginners to pro’s www.outtoswim.org
“During the Olympics I will be volunteering as part of the sports presentation team for the water polo competition. I’ve been volunteering with British Swimming at international water polo events for a number of years, so when the opportunities at the Olympics were advertised I was keen to be involved. I’ve taken two weeks off work to be part of the Olympics – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and really looking forward to seeing the world’s best water polo players in action.”
Gareth Johnson, Club Chairman, Out to Swim
“I am a volunteer performer in the Paralympic opening ceremony. Although the Paralympic receives far less attention than the Olympic Games, I still wanted to get involved because it’s a big event in our country. I think it’s a great opportunity for disabled people to show the world what they are capable of, and encourage other people with disabilities to be active and live out their dreams. Paralympic athletes are so inspirational I think they should be celebrated a lot more, so I am taking part to support them and get fit with every rehearsal!”
Cyrus Yuw, Out to Swim
In April 2009, Out to Swim added synchronised swimming to its aquatic repertoire with the OTS Angels, and have about 20 regular male and female swimmers and a 10 person competition team. They are doing really well at competitions and one of their swimmers recently won medals at Eurogames in Budapest. They are the only predominantly male team in the UK despite the Olympic movement currently discriminating against men by not allowing them to compete. Best known for big smiles and tight buns (on their heads), we here at QX would love to see some big strapping men competing on TV. The OTS Angels are always looking for new members and are holding a free “taster day” on Sunday 19th August as part of the Out for Sport weekend. They are also holding a beginners course consisting of four two-hour sessions every Sunday starting Sunday 26th August. See the OTS website www.outtoswim.org and click on the Synchro link.
RACQUETS & BALLS
With over 120 members, and a mailing list of 400+, Tennis London International welcomes players of all standards to their weekly meets. www.tennislondon.com
Goslings is an umbrella sports club which currently covers badminton and swimming at various London locations. The club has an inclusive policy and welcomes all to enjoy sport whatever their ability. For some shuttle-cock action, check out www.goslingssportsclub.com
The London Cruisers is the most dynamic gay basketball club in the UK with an eclectic mix of multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-talented lesbians and gay men. There are two women’s and two men’s teams who have found their way to the top of major gay sporting events. Indeed the ladies have been champions of the lesbian basketball tournament in Dusseldorf for six years running and have won gold medals at Gay Games. All very impressive! They are actively recruiting new players and are playing all over the summer so that new players can get a feel for the sport and the club. www.cruisers.org.uk
The London Spikers, London’s only Gay Men’s volleyball club, was conceived so that gay men could come and enjoy a team sport in an inclusive and friendly environment. The club has players who range from beginners through to those who play with the Advanced London Premier League, and offers a place where you can smash, spike and dive for all the balls you could ever want; a place to growl and sweat in fierce competition, yet still scream in shock and horror should you break a nail. www.londonspikers.org
ROUGH & TUMBLE
London Amateur Wrestlers was set up in early 1996 as an initiative to promote the combat sport of grappling in a gay-friendly environment. Although it’s not a gay club, it welcomes everyone interested in the sport. Everyone is welcome to take up membership, irrespective of age, gender or sexual orientation. www.law-wrestling.org
The only boxing club in the UK specifically for gay men, London Gay Boxing Club (LGBC) aim to create a friendly non-threatening environment for guys of all experience and fitness levels to get involved in the sport, get in shape and make friends. Training takes place every week at Ringtone Gym in N1. www.gayboxing.org
Alternatively, for a mixed environment head down to any Gymbox in town. “They all have their own boxing trainers, many of them ex-pros, who can really show you how to box – it’s a great work out and gets you in top shape and fitness”, says Lee (recon/BritBoxer). www.gymbox.com
Ishigaki is the largest and most well-established gay martial arts club in the United Kingdom. Starting in 1994, it is still going from strength to strength and has welcomed hundreds of people from dozens of nationalities to train with them. www.ishigaki.org.uk
Those of us in to the bigger, burlier blokes are particularly interested in the weightlifting, and if you want to get involved yourself the first port of call should be the British Weightlifting Association. www.britishweightlifting.org
For those who prefer the subtly different Powerlifting, then the British Drug Free Powerlifting Association www.bdfpa.co.uk is the link you want, and there can be no better role model than out gay man, Chris Morgan www.chunkymuscle.com. During his 14-year career he has represented England and Great Britain a total of twenty times, where he has taken a total of twenty international medals. He has been World Champion five times, British Champion seven times and has won six Gay Games gold medals. In 2010 and 2011 he was the overall Best Lifter at the British Deadlift Championship. Chris is currently a member of the England and Great Britain Powerlifting Teams and is a global ambassador for the Federation of Gay Games. www.gaygames.com
There used to be a national group, Out To Tri for LGBT triathletes and wannabe triathletes but sadly they are no longer active. There is also a small Gay Triathlon Network on Facebook and some of the Out to Swim members also compete. Previously the UK has done well on the international scene with out gay triathlete Mark Edmonds having won a clutch of home and foreign races including the British Grand Prix Series, as well as gold at several Gay Games.
London Xtreme, LGB Gymnastics & Diving is a group of LGB divers, sports acrobats, tumblers and gymnasts based in London, but sadly due to an insurance issue with their venue they are not currently meeting.
The Sailing & Cruising Association are a dynamic LGBT sailing and powerboat club that have been active since 1980 and are open to all who either own boats or just want to get afloat. Activities include yachting, racing and power-boating, as well as charter holidays/weekends at home and abroad. Teams from the club have won medals at the Gay Games and Euro Gay Cup. www.gaysailing.org.uk
The Orion Rowing Club, London’s gay rowers, dropped off the radar several years ago as their members began to just row for other existing clubs, but for those who are interested in taking up the sport of rowing, the Gay & Lesbian Rowing Federation GLRF offers a great resource to connect rowers, coxes, coaches, and race officials: http://learn2row.glrf.info
This link allows rowers from anywhere in the United Kingdom, or the world, to research opportunities for rowing in their area with separate country communities for every member, and category communities representing the diverse interests of juniors, women, university, masters, open/elite, to name but a few. www.glrf.info
It’s also worth checking out the newly formed Soho Rowing Club who are working towards the Stonewall Regatta, the World Out Games in Antwerp 2013, the World Gay Games in Cleveland 2014, the Euro Games in 2015 and eventually the Gay/Out Games in London 2018 among others in between. www.sohorowingclub.com
BREAKING NEWS – PRIDE HOUSE
Originally planned to go ahead on Clapham Common but cancelled because of a lack of sponsorship, a new Pride House festival has been launched for the London Olympics at the last minute with support from the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation, the Federation of Gay Games, GLISA International, the LGBT Consortium, and the Pride House Foundation. The global LGBT community and the public at large will be able to watch live coverage of the London summer Olympics, and discuss relevant topics related to LGBT sport at the festival. As well as the promise of live music, exhibits and video presentations, and an associated sports programme, including a Football vs. Homophobia football tournament. www.pridehouse2012.org
Whether you are a pitcher or a catcher, there is more to our wonderful gay scene than dark arches in Vauxhall, so get out on to a pitch, a court or a park and show us which team you really bat for.
More information and links to clubs can be found GMFA’s excellent ‘The Guide’: www.gmfa.org.uk/theguide or on the Out For Sport website www.outforsport.org