‘Sport doesn’t judge you on your sexual orientation’ - Olympian Tom Bosworth encourages gay young people to stick with sport

Olympic race walker Tom Bosworth is supporting Stonewall’s rainbow laces campaign as research shows homophobic attitudes in sport are shifting.

By Robyn Vinter
Friday, 13th December 2019, 6:00 am
Tom Boswell competes in the 20k race
Tom Boswell competes in the 20k race

Mr Bosworth, who trains at Leeds Beckett, currently holds the World Record for the one mile race walk and has been selected as an ambassador of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) charity, Stonewall.

The athlete came out as gay quite publicly in 2015 and, shortly after, a photograph of him proposing to his partner during the Rio Olympics in 2016 went viral online.

Initially he was taken aback by the media attention but things have settled down now.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“No-one had ever heard of me. I just thought I'd put it out there in a tweet and that would be that. But it just snowballed. But it's good. It's the best decision I've ever made,” he said.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that almost two thirds of the British public said it was important anti-LGBT language and abuse like calling someone or something “gay” in a derogatory way should be challenged at live sporting events.

This has risen from 58 per cent last year.

The steady rise in people wanting to help LGBT people feel included in sport highlights how attitudes are shifting, both on and off the pitch, Stonewall, which carried out the research said.

The athlete has only had one serious incident of homophobia in his career

The charity’s polling also four in ten LGBT people think public sporting events aren’t welcoming for them.

However, Mr Bosworth, who now divides is time between Liverpool and Leeds, said he has only come across one person who was homophobic in athletics.

“That's the good thing about athletics is that it's just so diverse, it welcomes all,” he said.

He advised LGBT children and young people to stick with sport as he supported Stonewalls rainbow laces campaign which calls on athletes, sportspeople and ordinary members of the public to wear rainbow laces to support LGBT inclusion.

“At a younger level you've got to remember that you are only going to be judged ultimately by the level that you perform at in all sports. Sport doesn't judge you for the colour of your skin, or what religion you are, your gender or sexual orientation.”

He also pointed out that in all sports there are LGBT teams and supporters groups.

“Ultimately, importantly, there's a huge LGBT community within sport.”

After getting the Tokyo Olympics out of the way next year, Mr Bosworth and his fiance Harry Dineley are planning to get married “probably in York”, where they met, in 2021.