Kianan from Life Style Sports shares why LGBTQ+ representation is so essential

Kianan, who played a blinder during the #GCN100KinMay Challenge, shares how having more visible LGBTQ+ people in top level sports could inspire others to get involved.

A young man stands against a rainbow coloured backdrop

Throughout the month of May, GCN partnered with Life Style Sports on the #GCN100KinMay campaign, encouraging people to get up and active while raising some much-needed funds for Ireland’s national LGBTQ+ press.

Not only did the fine folk at Life Style Sports support GCN, some of their own team also took part, smashing the 100k in no time. Although, Kianan Doherty, the Team Manager at the Dooradoyle store in Limerick wasn’t sure at first if he was up for the challenge.

“I didn’t think that I’d actually be able to do it,” he says. “Like, I go for a run every now and again. But when Life Style Sports and yourselves posted this, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna do this’ because it’s something that’s close to me. So I was like, let’s do it. I’m pushing myself.”

Growing up, Kianan played a lot of sport but once the pandemic hit and everything shut, he fell out of it and has since decided he probably won’t return in order to focus on other things in his life. Sport is something he values and enjoys but he had mixed experiences as a closeted gay person playing team sports.

“You would get slurs and stuff like that. And not that often but it happens,” he says. He noticed there was a big difference when playing GAA than when he would compete in athletics. “GAA it’s a ‘manly’ sport, it’s very stigmatized still, like, ‘Oh, it’s just a straight male sport and that’s it’. Especially where I’m from in Kerry, that’s just the way it always was. If you’re gay then you do something else. You don’t play that sport.”

He thinks it’s to do with the culture. There have been tentative steps to address this. Last year the first LGBTQ+ GAA team, Na Gaeil Aereacha, was set up. However, when Kianan read the comments on Facebook under an article announcing its creation, it was full of hate towards LGBTQ+ people. “Why is it like that?” he asks. “You know, it was really shit to be honest.”

He would like the association to be more visible in their support of the community, to signal to LGBTQ+ people that they are welcome to play. That lack of representation, and role models, in the men’s game can lead to further alienation.

“If you had some at the top level of the sport that are out, then other people that are in the sport with them can see ‘Oh, you can still make it to the top level’,” Kianan believes. “So you can be inspirational.”

As lockdown restrictions ease, and people can get back into team sports and regular training, there’s no better time to get active. Kianan is also looking forward to the world opening back up. Having only come out during last year’s lockdown, he shared “I haven’t really had the experience to go out and be my full kind of authentic self, so I’m really looking forward to that.”

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.