Away from the international stage and to the local arena there are still organisations that have been dedicated to providing a safe place for LGBT people to engage with the sporting activities they love.
In South Australia Team Adelaide has been providing this space for several decades but they have noticed the changing attitudes in sports.
“In its nearly 30 year history Team Adelaide has changed in the respect that many of the groups started as a friendly refuge for sports oriented GLBT people to allow them to be themselves on the sporting field, free of prejudice and discrimination,” Team Adelaide president Bryan Thalbourne told blaze.
“While they still offer that it appears that the rest of the world is catching up a bit in accepting that a sportsperson's sexuality has nothing to do with their abilities and desire to participate.
“At the elite level it's encouraging to see there has been a lot less made of the presence of openly gay and lesbian Olympians this year; while duly celebrated for their individual achievements this normalisation of their status provides a great example to the lower levels of mainstream sport of what a non-issue it really should be.”
The evolution of sports in Australia has also seen the changes with Team Adelaide who, back in 1985, started up as the South Australian Gay Sports and Arts Association (SAGSAA).
“The arts and social events were initially very successful however other groups formed to specialise in these areas and thus the organisation became focused on supporting its affiliated sporting groups,” Thalbourne highlighted.
“The group officially changed its name to Team Adelaide in 1999 to align with many other GLBTIQ sports groups worldwide.
“All Team Adelaide activities are open to anyone identifying as or who empathises with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer people.”
In aligning itself with other LGBT sports groups around the world Team Adelaide has been able to help out in the preparation of teams to take on sports at an international level.
“Apart from supporting and promoting our regular sporting groups, Team Adelaide also assists teams for participation in national and international sports events such as the Asia-Pacific Outgames (next one in Darwin, 2014), World Outgames III (Antwerp, Belgium 2013) and Gay Games VIII (Cleveland, Ohio 2014),” he said.
“Team Adelaide also encourages other associated sporting groups and assists in promoting them to our members and the general public alike.”
Back home in Adelaide and the number of sporting teams have been growing over the years for Team Adelaide creating friendly and social nights for sports enthusiasts of all skill levels.
“The Team Adelaide Ten-Pin Bowling League was formed in the mid 1980’s, moving to its current location of Woodville Bowl in 1996,” Thalbourne noted of one of Team Adelaide’s longest running activities. “The league’s emphasis is on enjoyment, with all levels catered for. A handicap system is used to enable a fair competition and those wishing for the occasional social bowl are encouraged to come along and play alongside the league on Thursday evenings.
“An annual Bowling Fun day is held usually in conjunction with the Feast Festival in November which is open to anyone interested in playing.
“Another equally long running Team Adelaide affiliate, the Team Adelaide Tennis group plays every Tuesday night and caters for men and women of all skill levels from beginners through to experienced.”
During the Feast Festival another side of Team Adelaide, the Dancesport group, the sport has grown into an annual event all of which was started after attending the Gay Games.
“The SA Samesex Dancesport group was formed by a number of enthusiastic dancers who enjoyed their experience at the 2002 Sydney Gay Games so much they immediately set their sights on competing in the 2006 games,” Thalbourne said.
“In order to improve their medal chances and keep their toes nimble, they decided to set up a group whose purpose is to develop same sex dancesport in Adelaide via regular weekly classes.
“The inaugural Feast National Samesex Competition in 2003 was so successful it has become an annual event. Other special event dances are also held during the year. Men’s and beginners classes have been added in recent years.”
Whilst the number of openly gay elite athletes grow there will continue to be other sporting opportunities locally for LGBT people ranging from volleyball to the more recently initiated Team Adelaide group for golf, all of which is run as part of a non-profit organisation.
Team Adelaide keeps participants up to date with their website at www.teamadelaide.org.au and all contact information for the separate sporting groups can be obtain by calling Bryan directly on 0412 594 273.
This article was originally written for and published by Gay News Network.