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WorkPride Panel: Hit Me with Your Best Shot! The Reality of Sports for the LGBTQ+ Family

Studies from Out on the Fields (2015) and OutSport (2019) show some shocking, though not surprising results: 80% of both queer and straight people have witnessed or experienced homophobic behaviour in sports, while 43% of football fans have witnessed homophobic behaviour while attending a game. 


Being LGBTQ+ in the sports industry is still a difficult reality, as prejudice is still very much present and often associated with toxic masculinity performed by straight counterparts. This panel promises to explore the obstacles of being queer and participating in sports, as well as strategies for sports organisations to help the community overcome these obstacles. 


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Speakers:

  • Michael Gunning
    Michael Gunning
    Professional Athlete / TV Personality
    UK/EU
    Michael Gunning is best known as a international competitive swimmer having attended two FINA World Swimming Championships. Holding dual Jamaican and British citizenship, he represented Team GB in the European LEN Cup and after the Rio Olympic Games he changed alliances to represent his fathers heritage of Team Jamaica. Gunning took a break from competing in the Summer of 2018 to participate in the award-winning television series 'The Bi Life' for E! Entertainment & NBC Universal. It was Michael's first public discussion of his sexuality, making him the Caribbean’s first openly gay athlete / swimmer. Since then, Michael is a regular pundit and avid speaker for the sport and recently partnered with Sky Sports, Stonewall and Athlete Ally as a Professional Ambassador/Advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in sport. With a heavy passion for TV Presenting and educational background in Children’s Entertainment, he welcomes new and exciting media opportunities in the world of entertainment.
  • Arthur Webber
    Arthur Webber
    Communications Support Officer
    London Youth
  • Devin Ibañez
    Devin Ibañez
    Professional Rugby Player and Public Speaker
    New England Free Jacks
    Devin Ibañez is the first openly gay Major League Rugby player and is dedicated to LGBTQ+ advocacy in sport. He hopes to inspire the next generation of LGBTQ+ athletes and make sport an inclusive space for them. Raised in Boston, MA, Devin played for Major League Rugby team, the New England Free Jacks, in their 2019 exhibition season. He won a gold medal while representing Team USA at the 2017 World Maccabiah Games in Israel. He also won the 2018 D1 National Championship with his club team, Mystic River Rugby Club. When not playing, Devin has coached rugby at Westlake Boys High School in New Zealand, his alma mater Brookline High School and most recently with the Northeast Academy. He holds a degree in sport management and education from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Devin was announced Global Ambassador for International Gay Rugby (IGR) in May 2021. He is now looking towards a career in Public Speaking and Community Engagement.
  • Cleo Lyn (she/her)
    Cleo Lyn (she/her)
    Events Coordinator
    British universities and colleges sport
  • Joanie Evans
    Joanie Evans
    Access to Legal Services Advisor
    Mary Ward Legal Center
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