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The World’s First LGBTQ+ Cricket Match Held in the UK

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The historical event took place on Sunday at the Weoley Hill Cricket Club between the United Kingdom’s two LGBTQ+ cricket teams, the Birmingham Unicorns, and the Graces Cricket Club.

What We Know:

  • Players on both teams felt overjoyed at the inaugural game. Graces captain Stuart Anthony told AFP that the game symbolized more than just entertainment; it made a statement. Unicorns skipper Lachlan Smith added that the cricket match was “a celebration of inclusion”.

“If you’re into cricket, there’s a place for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re different — we have a home,” said Anthony.

  • The two clubs thought about playing each other after Smith came to the Graces for advice on starting an inclusive team. The country’s governing body for cricket, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), as well as the county team Warwickshire permitted the match to happen because of coronavirus relaxations.
  • The Graces and Unicorns found importance in creating teams that represent the LGBTQIA+ community in cricket. Certain athletes on the team previously felt the necessity to hide their sexuality for the sake of the sport. They even reported that a majority of players in other cricket clubs do the same thing.
  • For example, Smith grew up playing the sport but became disenchanted with it when he felt an incompatibility between his sexuality and the game. He spent fifteen years away from the sport and came out of the closet after playing with his current club for two years. Additionally, Anthony felt similar feelings about cricket. His emotions changed when he found an LGBTQ-inclusive team in 2009.
  • Despite the ECB supporting the LGBTQ+ community more and more in recent years, athletes and charities alike believe the organization could do more. National charity Stonewall’s Director of Programmes Liz Ward said that tackling discriminatory behaviors should not only rest on LGBTQIA+ athletes’ shoulders. Furthermore, Anthony believes complete acceptance of others in cricket will take a little longer. However, he also feels that the younger generations will be more open to LGBTQ+ athletes. Smith thinks more inclusive teams should pop up and play more matches, citing that it shouldn’t take another 25 years to occur.

The Graces became the UK’s first LGBTQ+ team in 1996; the Unicorns became the second team with its conception in March 2021.

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