Rainbow Laces: ‘It’s a conversation starter…part of the education process’

England Golf’s support of this week’s Rainbow Laces campaign is not just about attracting LGBTQ+ people to get into golf and enjoy physical activity.

It is also a chance to recognise the contributions that LGBTQ+ people make through paid and voluntary roles in our game.

For England Golf, it is important that we enjoy a sport that is open to all but equally crucial that we create the right workplace environment to welcome LGBTQ+ people to our industry.

Within the workplace it’s also crucial that everyone is supported and encouraged to be their authentic self helping to make sure they are able to fully contribute to their chosen role.

Earlier this month, Jamie Blair, England Golf’s diversity and inclusion manager sat down with Gemma Hunter, handicapping and course rating manager, to talk about the importance of Rainbow Laces.

Gemma, as a gay woman working in the golf industry, was able to offer her perspective on the importance of the campaign in the sport she loves.

“From my point of view, before we did anything at England Golf (starting in 2018) you would see other sports, football for example, get the support of the Premier League for Rainbow Laces,” admitted Gemma, pictured above at the England Golf offices.

“That awareness of LGBT over one weekend of football, in a game which may have been noted as not the friendliest of environments, was big.

“For sport and football to say, ‘actually, there’s no place for homophobia’ made a big difference and it’s become an important fixture in their calendar.

“Golf had never done that before and it may sound corny but simply by changing the England Golf logo to a rainbow on social media and the website started the emails asking ‘why?’

“It’s a conversation starter and we should always be having that conversation about LGBT or other diverse groups. If we don’t, people won’t learn or understand.” – Gemma Hunter

“Little things like that showed that the sport I love and the organisation I work for understands and appreciates the meaning of it.

“It’s about education, awareness and about others asking the question – why are you doing this, what’s this about?

“From that point you can start to educate.

“It’s a conversation starter and we should always be having that conversation about LGBT or other diverse groups. If we don’t, people won’t learn or understand.”

Gemma continued: “Golf as a sport is unique.

“You can have a range of people in the same competition with different swings, different clubs, different golf bags. Some will wear loud trousers some will wear chinos, some will wear shorts in the middle of winter!

“That individuality from a sport perspective can then be taken into the individuals who play the game.

“There are a lot of parallels with where we are as a sport and this Rainbow Laces campaign.”

You can listen to Gemma and Jamie speak in more detail in episode 13 of the England Golf podcast, due out next week.

In the meantime, you can discover how to be an ally to LGBTQ+ people in sport on the Stonewall website .