Sporting organisations have played a growing role in providing a social foundation in the queer community, away from pubs and clubs. Across Ireland every week, groups of people gather to play sports while finding the acceptance of their peers. Meanwhile, many strong individuals are working hard and taking initiatives to make Ireland’s sporting world fully inclusive of LGBT+ people.
As an openly gay sportsman within the GAA, David Gough was recognised for his bravery in changing perceptions and culture within both the GAA and sporting communities.
David was the first openly gay referee of the men’s senior All Ireland football final and the impact of that can not be underestimated.
David recently made the news when he called out RTÉ sports analyst Colm O’Rourke for making homophobic comments live on air. David shared with RTÉ 2FM, “I called out what said was the pejorative use of homophobic language, which was meant to be a throwaway remark…
“I would be the first to say that Colm meant no harm and he’s not homophobic, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it did cause harm to people from the LGBT+ community and that needs to be recognised.
“I have been one of those people who have listened to that type of pejorative use of homophobic language in dressing rooms and in GAA grounds around Slane and Navan, and around the country, and thought it was the right thing to do to call it out.”
Upon receiving his award, David shared, “I’m so very proud to stand here and accept this award on behalf of two very distinct groups in Irish society – the LGBT+ and the GAA. They might not have had the easiest of relationships in the past, but after 135 years of existence in the GAA, we finally have a voice. I just want to pay particular thanks to Valerie – a nominee in this category tonight, Valerie you walked every step of the way in this journey with me and without you and the support from the LGFA, this would not have been possible. Here’s to the next 135.”
As one of Ireland’s biggest LGBT sporting clubs with 254 registered members and a running club for the LGBT+ community and their friends, Dublin Frontrunners has long welcomed athletes of all abilities to join in and feel a part of the community. With their mission to provide a healthy, athletic and social experience to the LGBT+ family, the club has become a group very dear to its members’ hearts. Alongside a Couch to 5K programme for those starting out on their fitness journey, every summer Frontrunners organise the always hugely successful Pride Run which raises much-needed funds for LGBT+ organisations. Last year alone, around 1,000 people took part in the Pride Run with many thousands of euro raised for charity.
Gaelic footballer, Valerie Mulcahy, has had a profound impact on Irish sport. With her time on the Cork team resulting in ten All-Ireland titles. Valerie also helped launch the Women’s Gaelic Players’ Association in 2015. As an out lesbian sportswoman, Valerie played an instrumental role in persuading the GAA to march in Dublin Pride for the first time in 2019. On being an LGBT+ role model for younger members of the community, Valerie has previously shared, “When was younger, lacked that person that could look up to and see that everything was going to be fine, so if people look up to me and see that it will all be ok, think that’s a nice thing to be able to do.”
Emerald Warriors RFC
Formed in 2003, the Emerald Warriors was set up to provide an open, inclusive and safe environment for the LGBT+ community to watch, play and enjoy rugby. They are the largest LGBT+ inclusive rugby team in Ireland with over 150 members and two teams competing in the Leinster Metro League. In 2019, the Warriors also successfully hosted the Union Cup - Europe’s biggest LGBT+ inclusive rugby tournament. That year also saw the Cup host a dedicated women’s tournament for the first time.