Jamie Hooper profile - LGBT History Month24 February 2017 Swim England News
As part of LGBT History Month, we have profiled a number of people within our sport who have had experiences of being ‘out’ with their identification, and the part their sport has played.
- Age: 26
- Gender: Male
- Sexual orientation: Gay
- Twitter handle: @just_jamie1990
- Role within Swim England: Health and Wellbeing Manager. I also lead nationally on inclusion in participation, a job that ties extremely well with my personal experience and passions as an openly gay man.
What does LGBT History Month mean to you?
LGBT History Month is about remembering LGBT history and how that has shaped how LGBT people can live now and how they will do in the future. It also represents the chance for both me and Swim England to help promote how diverse and inclusive the aquatic world is.
Has sport helped you at all with your sexual orientation?
My sexual orientation has always been a tiny part of who I am, minuscule in comparison to how important sport is in my life. I only started to merge the two very recently, which my job has undoubtedly supported. My life outside of swimming tends to revolve around hockey; I lead the European Youth Hockey panel. I’m also an international indoor and outdoor hockey umpire, and this year I am the Men’s 1XI Captain for the London Royals Hockey Club, the UK’s largest LGBT hockey club.
I could not be prouder to take on that role as we enter our second season in the league. The London Royals have taught me a lot about how it is okay to be myself, on and off the pitch. There is nothing more rewarding than that, except being able to play hockey at the same time. For that I am forever grateful.
What was your experience like coming out in sport?
I had an amazing experience being out from a young age throughout school, sixth form and university. I never had any problems at all from what I can remember. Sport was a major part of my life throughout my whole education and I continue to play sport now. In many ways sport was my release from the general stress and torment of being a teenager. I loved being able to be me on the field and couldn’t imagine my life without sport in it.
What was your experience like coming out at work?
Again, I have always been out in a professional environment too. Being able to be out at work, particularly in a role like mine, is a huge benefit. It’s my job to open the floodgates to swimming for so many others, and to be a part of one of those minority groups means that I can relate much more.
Swim England is an incredibly open and welcoming place to work. We work hard to drive change in traditional swimming participation and we want to reflect that in our workforce too. I love the people I work with, and have never felt more comfortable to be myself in a professional environment.
How important is it that sport governing bodies do more to support the LGBT population?
Our mission at Swim England is to create a happier, healthier and more successful nation through swimming. This means getting everyone in the water. I have personally seen and felt the happiness that sport can provide to so many people, and am working to drive this across aquatic sports in England.
It is vital that we, and other sport governing bodies, continue to work with our facility providers, clubs and athletes to help them demonstrate their commitment to address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport. We need to work with real-life role models to lead the way for LGBT+ people. We need to reassure them that it is OK to play sport whatever your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Have you had any really great experiences in sport or at work in relation to your sexual orientation?
The best experience I have happens every day, being able to do what I do at work. I absolutely adore it. I have seen the happiness that sport can provide to so many people, and it is my job to make sure that swimming can do that for everyone.
What message would you like to send to others like you?
I would like to challenge everyone reading this to push themselves to make their own sports, clubs, schools, leagues and competitions as inclusive as possible not only to LGBT people, but to absolutely everyone. We must continue to work together to eradicate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport. Everyone should have the opportunity to have a love of sport like you and I do.