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In part two of Proud to be a part of Team UCL

Lizzy, a member of Women’s Football..

“Arriving at university, I had only recently ‘come out’ to my friends and family. For anyone familiar with the experience (although it is different for everyone), this meant many complex and often confusing things. Whilst I was finally coming to terms with part of who I am, I would be lying if I said that I was fully comfortable with my sexuality. Coming out was terrifying, but as a member of the LGBT+ community I knew that I would always be coming out to new people. University was both a liberating and daunting prospect.  

Why is this relevant? Because for many LGBT+ members of sports teams at UCL, joining and being a member of a sporting club is just one aspect of a very intricate world we have to navigate. This is often overlooked. When we talk about inclusive clubs and societies at UCL, we often forget to see the bigger picture. UCLWFC was a club I had to have the courage to join, to fit into, to come out to, to settle into, and to become part of. It is one thing joining a team, and another feeling part of a team. As an LGBT+ person, it is the latter that is often the most intimidating. Sports teams are environments where inclusion and unity are essential to becoming a successful squad. For an LGBT+ person (and not just restricted to LGBT+ people), inclusion is not a simple, two-dimensional concept. Existing in sport, or having your name on a team sheet, is not sufficient. Inclusion involves more than this. Inclusion can involve understanding, patience, openness, solidarity, and acceptance. Joining a team is a difficult step, but it is by no means the final step.”

This week sports teams have been taking part in Pride in Team UCL week by holding inclusive events and fundraising for Stonewall, a leading LGBT equality charity.

“Women’s football is a sport surrounded by stigma. Football is deemed too masculine for women. I cannot count how many times I have been asked if all the women in our club are lesbians. You may think this stigma makes joining UCLWFC easy for LGBT+ women. Funnily enough, these homophobic and sexist stigmas make it far from easy for any woman to join the team.

Triumphing over the stigma surrounding women’s football, UCLWFC is a club that is welcoming, diverse, and inclusive. We are a team, and great teams succeed through acceptance and unity. Sexuality is not an exception to this rule. At UCLWFC, my sexuality has never been an obstacle. UCLWFC is a club that celebrates and welcomes diversity. This is demonstrated through our commitment to volunteering for multiple organisations, our inclusive range of social events (both sober and not so sober), and our wonderful members and coaches.

The Pride in Sport week at UCL is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of the experiences and problems LGBT+ students face in sports. The values, support, and commitment to improving the experiences of LGBT+ students should not be confined to one week. UCLWFC prides itself in celebrating diversity and inclusivity every day of the year.”

To find out about what Team UCL have been up to this week and see what else is going on, you can find a full list of events here.

Part 1 of this series can be found here.