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.”
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