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tv   The Sporting L Word  BBC News  December 30, 2021 3:30pm-4:01pm GMT

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offenderjeffrey epstein — she faces the rest of her life behind bars. afghanistan's former president has defended his decision to flee the countryjust before the taliban takeover in august. ashraf ghani says he left, to prevent the destruction of kabul. now on bbc news... in a programme first shown in february as part of bbc sport's lgbt+ history month, clare balding looks at what it means to be a gay woman in sport. hi there, my name is clare balding, and i'm a television and radio broadcaster, mainly in sport, for the bbc and for other channels as well. it's really interesting looking
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at lgbt rights and indeed attitudes to lgbt people through the lens of sport. and i'm particularly going to focus on women's sport, because since the early 20th century, with the record goal—scorer and iconic footballer lily parr, to the 21st century boxer nicola adams and global superstar megan rapinoe, i think women's sport has been a place where it is important to be yourself. billiejean king and martina navratilova have both been vocal advocates for equal rights and for the lgbt community to be respected and valued. and visibility is a really important thing. for as long as people stay hidden from view, or deny who they are and who they love, then there will be a stigma of shame, and that shame passes on from generation to generation. on the flip side of that coin, if you can be happily visible, if you can be proud, if you can be comfortable and confident, if you can be generous with your experience and with your time, then
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i think you pass on an aura of positivity to other generations. and that is how the world changes. and it has changed, it has come a long way since martina navratilova was at the height of her powers, as she told sue barker. i really didn't figure it out until i had my first relationship with a woman. then when it did happen, i was like "oh, that's what it was," because i had these crushes but i didn't recognise it was anything other than crushes on adults, i had crushes on men as well, but they were definitely stronger on women. my dad asked, "we think you are living as a man and a woman" with this woman i was with, and i said, if they ask me, i will tell them, so that's exactly what happened. five years after i had been with a woman, they asked, and i said yes, and all hell kind of broke loose. but, my dad said some things he wished he hadn't said, but he didn't know, again, people really didn't know any better. we never stopped talking, but there was a tension.
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and then my dad educated himself, he read some books and he said, "i realise now it had nothing to do with you or me, it's just who you are, and it's ok, ijust want you to be happy" and that is all you want from your parents. this is 30 years ago. you talk about your family coming over. did you buy them a separate house because you wanted to protect them from finding out? well, no, i needed the space on my own. even if i had been with a man, i would have wanted the separate house. you know, i'm an adult now, my parents live next door, literally three houses down, so at the end it was only about me being happy, and does the person i am with treat me well? it was a very negative thing from the fans�* standpoint. from crowd reaction or from letters? yes. crowd reaction. the letters, the response when i came on court. when i started winning, being gay and winning, i think it was too threatening. it was ok to be gay as long as i was losing,
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but when i started dominating, somehow i had an unfair advantage, i don't know how. financially, it would have cost you a lot. i didn't lose any deals, but i didn't get any new deals. let's put it that way. i had my shoes, racquets and clothing contracts, always, and then when i started winning, the money was better, but did i ever get paid as much as chris for the same deals? i doubt it. and i certainly didn't get any outside deals. i'm not sure there has ever been a bolder, more visible, more successful lesbian icon than martina navratilova in the �*80s and �*90s. tennis in many ways has led the way in terms of equal pay and attitudes to the lgbt community. billiejean king says it is one of her greatest regrets that she didn't come earlier to the realisation that she needed to be her authentic self, and she needed to talk about it. but my word, the campaigning she has done since has really made up for that. and it has paved the way
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for the likes of amelie mauresmo, jana novotna, conchita martinez and sam stosur, all grand slam winners who happen to be gay. they haven't necessarily been active campaigners, as such, but not everybody wants to be, and not everybody has to be. alison van uytvanck of belgium is one of a new generation of players that really wants to be able to talk about her relationship. and she's been with her partner greet minnen for five years. they got engaged at christmas. they've played doubles together and they also sometimes play on opposing sides of the court. they did that in a tournament in germany recently and after the match was over, as couples do, they kissed. this is what alison had to say about it. it was actually not a bad match. we were like 0k, we willjust go fully, both of us, and we'll see what happens. i think we were happy it was done. but before and after, it was fine. i mean, we had a good match.
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and whoever won, after the match, it was done. and we were back girlfriends, so. yeah, it wasn't easy, for sure. you just have to put aside that she was my girlfriend. when you win a point, normally you're happy and you show it. but during this match, we kind ofjust kept neutral all the match, because we just, of course we both wanted to win. but still, i mean, you don't want to rub it in the other one's face. like, "i just won this point." so, we were just happy it was finished. it will happen again probably. now, interestingly, there are quite a lot of instances of couples playing for the same team at the moment in women's sport. whether it's pernille harder, a world record signing for chelsea, and her partner magda eriksson, who's the club captain. or nat sciver and katherine brunt on the england cricket team.
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or meg jones and celia ouansah for the england sevens team who recently spoke publicly about their relationship for the first time. perhaps most famously of all, kate and helen richardson walsh, both part of the gold medal winners for hockey in the rio olympics. to win gold for- great britain, scores! that's the golden goal! great britain have won . the olympic gold medal! the hockey history makers. great britain are the olympic. champions, and they are on top of the world! can i ask you first, when did you first play together? it would have been back in 1997. yeah, for the england under 18 team. and what was the environment like in the team? can you remember whether people were willingly embracing of diversity, let's say?
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i wouldn't have said so, particularly. i don't think it was intentionally discriminatory, ijust don't think it was a topic of conversation. i think it was very much presumed that you would have a boyfriend. that is kind of where it went. which is discriminatory, let's be honest. but i don't think it was necessarily conscious. and obviously it took a long time before you were actually involved in a relationship. when that happened, how quickly did you feel you needed to tell the rest of the team? it wasn't something we felt we wanted to do, or felt comfortable enough to do straightaway, if we're honest. we told a couple of people in the team who were also in leadership positions. i think because we were building up to an olympic games, i think it was just felt that, i think actually let's just not rock the boat, let's keep this as it is. your team—mates, and i've
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talked to a lot of your team—mates, say you were, as a couple, you were so inspirational to them. and actually, they were really proud of you. actually, now that that has happened for one couple, you're now starting to see it happen a bit more openly for lots of other couples in other sports. so it's kind of opened the door, it has made it way more comfortable. and i think the key thing was, right at the start, as soon as it was something that was now open, was that we spoke about it. it was put on the table as, this is happening, this is the case. the reaction, luckily, for nearly everyone, is never as bad as you think it's going to be. but i do feel that within sport, when you're talking about such marginal differences, that the fear of being outed orfear of being open can limit some people in their performance. 100%. yeah.
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without a doubt. if you can't be your whole self, you are carrying a weight around with you. you have the pressure of day—to—day life, the pressure of performing every day. and then this added weight. it would absolutely affect you. it's just those simple daily questions, conversations that happen around you all the time. like when we first got into the team, you meet new people and they say, "have you got a boyfriend?" straightaway, that question. or the fact you are dreading that question coming is there constantly. once you were open and got a much better reaction than either of you probably anticipated, what difference do you think it made to you on the pitch? did you feel better as players? so i was already out for a few years before i had a relationship with kate. having conversations with people who knew me
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reasonably well, they just saw a completely different person. they now saw somebody who. .. i don't think it's confidence, i think it's beyond confidence, it's just like a way, and they're now actually seeing the real me rather than somebody that's trying to hide themselves. i think the general assumption is, oh, women's sport, and men's sport needs work. is that false? i would imagine there's still a perception of, "oh, yeah, another couple," that kind of thing. and i think that's where the education comes in. the more you're able to speak about these things to youngsters and actually they see the person behind the sexuality or the gender or the sportsperson, the more they are able to think, "oh, they'rejust people and that's fine."
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i remember 20 years ago giving a talk at whatever uk sport was then, so all of the coaches are in the room, and i was talking about women's sport and how we could build it. and i said, "i would like to talk about the elephant "in the room as well. "that women's sport has a very high percentage of gay women." i deliberately didn't use the word lesbian, because i have the same mental thing going on in my head that, whenever it's been said to me it has been a negative term, so i said gay women, and i think we need to discuss that. "i think we should be transparent and open and talk about how women's sport is a very accepting place for diversity and same—sex couples. " i mean, the horror and the silence... and i was stunned because i thought, "god, you're really scared of this." and i think it's because a lot of people in senior coaching positions and senior management were scared. i think they were scared. and i think they were worried
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that parents would, you know, it's like, "oh god, don't talk about it because parents already think if we let our daughter play women's sport she's going to become a lesbian..." and i think the old—fashioned assumption was if you go into women's sport you're going to be a lesbian. it was never said in a positive way, it was never, "you're going to be a lesbian!" it was always a negative thing. we still struggle to know how to identify ourselves. because i think in part because of how the term lesbian is used in such a negative way, particularly in a sporting context. oh, kate, she's a lesbian now, 'cause, you know." that's another... we need to reclaim that word and see it again for what it is, a positive part of the lgbtq+ community.
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i'm sort of hopeful that, the young ones now, 10, 11, 12, 13, just starting their sporting experience and life, i just don't think they grow up with the same negative connotations. i don't think they care. when i go into schools, i definitely agree. i have had my rainbow laces on, or rainbow on my hockey stick, they ask me about that and want to talk to me about it and i'm always blown away, because i would never have asked a question like that, when i was your age at school. but then i think the people they are surrounded by, what are their views and opinions, what impact does that have? now with the power of social media is another layer of people they can follow, get in touch with, talk to, listen to, share with. and i think that's something we didn't have growing up. orjust female sport being on tv. we remember watching the olympics every four years or wimbledon every year, and that was the only time we really actually saw women playing sport. so it's not where it needs to be by any stretch, particularly now with covid. it's actually gone backwards.
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but the more that women's sport is on tv, itjust makes such a big difference because you do get to see a diverse range of people. and what they look like. but yeah, so there are a huge amount of different role models, and that is really positive and that is playing a massive part in this changing, for sure. i so identify with what helen says about a weight being lifted off your shoulders when you are able to be honest with everyone around you. you are happier, you're more relaxed, not lying any more. you are stronger, and so are your team—mates, or your workmates. i think though, the fears are real, and the challenges still exist, and you worry about being excluded, or disapproved of, or shamed. in some senses, and this goes back to what martina navratilova was talking about, you worry about not being promoted, not being supported in your career. luckily, there are so many examples now of companies who are forward—thinking and outward—looking,
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and who actively want to support individuals who are just that — individual. many of the best paid sportswomen in the world are also gay. look at abby wambach, the usa's leading all—time goal—scorer who won two olympic gold medals and a world cup, now she's a bestselling author and motivational speaker. megan rapinoe, the winner of the golden boot and the golden ball at the fifa women's world cup, renowned for standing with her arms outstretched and challenging authority at every turn. and quieter in her manner is australian goal—scoring dynamo sam kerr, one of the best paid players in the world, having signed for chelsea last year. all of them have shown there is no commercial price to be paid for being out and being proud. look at examples on tv as well, kelly smith who is one of the best football pundits around. casey stoney, the former england captain and now the manager of manchester united's thriving wsl team.
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both of them have children. and that has shown as well, the younger generation, that you are not curtailed from having a family, you are not denied that delight because you are in a same—sex relationship. that in itself is an important example. so what does the future hold? well, rugby union is one of the relatively young sports, certainly at club level, as an option for women. let's hear from one of the exciting players, she's a winger for the sale sharks, she's also a science teacher at a secondary school. her name is carys hall. when i was younger, i dabbled in a lot of different sports, my mum took me to karate when she went to the gym on a saturday. i did cross country with my older sister. that translated into doing indoor athletics and going out to do track and field. competing in the city championships and stuff like that. i really took hold of athletics for a long period of my life. i also played football
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when i was younger, as well, but i switched over in uni to rugby, rugby sevens first then went into rugby 155. how would you sum up the atmosphere in women's rugby compared to other sports, in terms of its allowance of you to be yourself? it's the typical, "you can be any body type to play the positions we need." but it's also, i find people don't question your sexuality when you go in, and even if it is a question, it doesn't make any difference because you are putting your body on the line. i know i have always grown up being quite muscular, very much not one to wear a dress. i was thinking whether that played into my not wanting to come out and come to terms with being queer sooner, because i didn't want to play into the stereotypes of being the girl that has short hair who plays football and has the short hair and does the stereotypically masculine sports.
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i know thatjust on that reflection, i am thinking that's probably why i didn't play rugby earlier, because i played tag rugby in primary school and that fell to the sideline, whereas when i went into athletics it was like, ok, i canjust hide away for a bit and do what i need to do and be the person with the muscular body that helps with sprinting. but i was speaking to my friend the other day, she used to get people asking if i was gay, and i didn't really know back then. having her say that to me i remember questioning myself whether i appeared gay. as an adult now, i don't think there is anything wrong with that, i should have been proud of that when i was younger, but again having people put labels on you that you weren't ready or even understood yourself was quite difficult, and can be quite difficult, but as we get more people speaking about the lgbt community, showing it's a multitude of people, people can start to
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be more comfortable. it doesn't have to be a negative connotation of your identity. yeah, and you're in an interesting position because you are also teaching in a secondary school, a science teacher. so you are seeing kids, and therefore you can... i was trying to think of a clever science term that wasn't litmus test. you have a take on their changing attitudes. yes. do you think kids these days are more open—minded, more fluid maybe? more...just relaxed in their attitude to sexuality? i have one story from teaching in school, and the kids were having this discussion. and i really enjoy listening to them because they are so intelligent, so well read as well. and there was a conversation between a young boy and a young girl, talking about the use
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of homophobic slurs. i always quote it, because it really took me... i think i was inspired and i wanted to be like her when i was younger. this girl was talking to this boy saying, "you can't be using those words so flippantly, and not realising that you are in a position of power". she literally said to him, "you are a white, cisgendered, straight male and you don't understand how it is from the perspective of someone questioning their sexuality or simply being a female". there was another kid that didn't really engage in my class. i let the conversation evolve, and the girl at the front turned around, she is a person of colour, she said, "you really don't understand, just by looking different from everyone else, that there may be struggles". there were two boys in this conversation. one of them went into himself, and you could see him
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reflecting on actually what he was saying, because these girls had always been his friends from year seven onwards. you could see the other boy was working through his thoughts by speaking to them. it really made the conversation far more powerful. and as i said, i was blown away by it, and i really wish there was someone around me who was so strong in who they were, i guess i wish that was me when i was younger. how important do you think it is also to see women in very glamorous positions, like nicola adams on strictly come dancing, choosing to dance with another woman. i think it's fantastic. to get inspired for the big night, our boxing superstar went back to the place where it all began. i know in school there was a lot of buzz around the kids talking about strictly come dancing and they would talk about nicola adams. they chose to come to me and talk about it because
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we look similar. but then also, they were saying, "miss, you look like nicola adams," but there was never anything about she was dancing with a same—sex partner. it was just something that happened, because she is gay. it was quite nice for them to have that conversation with me, and it bejust a conversation about someone doing really well on tv. carys hall there, talking at the end about the importance of seeing nicola adams on strictly come dancing, dancing with a female partner. having a glamorous presence on a prime—time tv show really has value, because it shows that gay and bisexual women are not all the same, we come in many shapes and sizes, we have different personalities, different attitudes and styles. some are flamboyant and bold, others are quiet and shy. some funny, some are serious. some can dance, some can sing, some can do neither. not everyone is going to have the desire or the ability to go on marches and make
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public statements. not everyone will go on strictly come dancing with a female partner, or indeed with a male one. but those who do pave the way for everyone else, not just to be tolerated and accepted, but to be embraced, to be cherished, to be celebrated and championed. and women's sport is showing how. but there is always more that can be done, so that the next generation can reach their full potential, can be proud of their team—mates, and can be proud of themselves. hello. it's been very mild again
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today and it could be the warmest new year's eve and new year's day on record. we are going to stick with this exceptionally mild air in the uk, blustery winds come with that but where the winds are coming from is significant because it is those warm southerly winds bringing warmth from the azores, from madeira, and heading north into the uk bringing a lot of cloud. these are the temperatures we have into the early evening, 1a or 15 widely across the south of the uk, colder in scotland under clear skies. this rain has been developing, continuing to push north, overnight moving into central and southern scotland, turning better in northern ireland. you see a short burst of rain pushing east across england and wales later in the night. still quite breezy for many parts of the country, very mild for the most part. colder in northern scotland where we have clear skies. tomorrow we see the back of that rain early on in east anglia and the south—east, many parts of the country brightening with some sunshine coming through, the winds not as strong.
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we still have this rain affecting central and southern scotland, the far north of england, tending to ease in the afternoon, still damp and cloudy for these areas but still very mild, temperatures 13 in the central belt of scotland, 16 or 17 in east anglia and the south—east. heading further into the evening, as you see in the new year there could be some patchy rain across the north and west of the uk, many places starting dry and we still have this exceptionally mild air in place as we head into the new year. new year's day, still some rain, that band of rain shouldn't last too long, pushing eastwards, then it brightens up in the west, sunshine later in the day, you start to see showers arriving in western scotland and northern ireland. very mild again, temperatures typically 1a degrees, as high as 16 degrees. after saturday, things change because the very mild southerly winds get pushed into europe and instead, we get more of a west to south westerly wind, still mild, just not as mild and there will be some rain around as we head into sunday, particularly
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across more western and southern parts of the uk, some of the rain could be heavy. temperaturess a few degrees lower on sunday, still mild for this time of year.
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this is bbc news broadcasting to viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm geeta guru—murthy. our top stories... the british socialite ghislaine maxwell is found guilty by a jury in new york on five counts of grooming and trafficking teenage girls for abuse. maxwell procured the girls for the financier and convicted sex offenderjeffrey epstein. she faces the rest of her life behind bars. no matter who you are or what kind of circles you travel in, no matter how much money you have, no matter how many years have passed since the sexual abuse, justice is still possible. europe looks to build its defences against a new wave of covid infections, as the number of cases continues to surge. and afghanistan's former president defends his decision

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