On 28 October, AU President Jack Bristow will be launching his ‘Come Out and Play’ campaign to coincide with this year’s football Varsity, the Best of the Southwest derby, between EUAFC and Bath University 1st XI (UBFC) at St. James’ Park.
The campaign is being run to showcase Exeter’s sporting environment as a welcoming place for LGBT people, with an emphasis on sharing positive experiences of LGBT students already involved in sport at the University in order to encourage other LGBT students to get involved.
Members of AU Sports clubs will be asked to affirm their support by signing a Charter, written collaboratively between members of the LGBT community and the AU Exec Committee.
First team squads will be given rainbow coloured laces to wear for the duration of the season. These will also be on general sale from the Guild shop, with all proceeds going to Stonewall UK, an LGBT support and campaign charity.
The campaign website will be a platform where openly LGBT students already involved in AU sport will be invited to share their positive experiences of sport at the University.
“I want both LGBT students worried about getting involved in sport and student athletes who feel they have to hide their sexuality to know that they can Come Out And Play.”
Moreover, University sports staff have been asked to attend workshops, run by PrideSports, designed to inform all staff of the issues faced by LGBT people in sport and the best ways to support them. These workshops are intended to reach all sports club coaches by the end of the academic year.
Speaking to Exeposé, Bristow said, “As a gay athlete myself, I am acutely aware of the lack of LGBT sportsmen and women at the top level as well as the issues faced by many LGBT people in sport. However, I have only had positive experiences of sport at the University of Exeter and I want to share that. I want both LGBT students worried about getting involved in sport and student athletes who feel they have to hide their sexuality to know that they can Come Out And Play.”
The campaign will be launched at the Football Varsity, rebranded as the ‘Best of the South West Football Derby Match’, where Bristow will introduce the campaign in a speech before the match at Exeter City Football Club’s home ground, where the EUAFC XI will be wearing rainbow laces.
It is hoped that the campaign will end with an AU presence at Exeter Pride in May.