Sporting Pride Northern Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and Belfast Boat Club recently collaborated to run an LGBTQ inclusion rowing course.

Martin Murray (Sporting Pride Liaison person, Northern Ireland) spoke of the course success: ”I can honestly say the participants have been completely welcomed in by the eager volunteers at Belfast Boat club and feel very comfortable now so we want to give the wider community  that experience and awareness. ”

Belfast Boat Club supplied volunteers, boats and oars to make a 6 week taster course for 2 hours every Saturday. Sporting Pride and Sport Northern Ireland supported the cost of professional coaching for the 12 participants who signed up.

Below you can read some anecdotal accounts from participants as well as some photos.

Participant 1: My brother asked me the other day what the point of an LGBTQ Rowing course was. I had to explain the difference in entering a group activity as an LGBTQ person in a divided community. You are not only worried about your own safety and comfort but you have an added pressure and anxiety not to offend anyone else by being yourself especially in a group setting where you don’t want to be the odd person out.  

Participant 2: As a trans person, sports venues often don’t cater to people under the trans umbrella. I do not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable in the same changing room as me and I don’t want to feel uncomfortable in a gendered changing room that doesn’t match my gender. Taking part in a course where everyone is LGBTQ makes it a lot more comfortable for me to make the choice that matches my identity and open a safe space to have conversations about identity and comfort.  

Participant 3: As anyone knows making friends as an adult outside of your colleagues is impossible so finding a load of new friends with similar interests who have experiences that I have is really special and has been great for my confidence and getting the opportunity to learn new skills.