June marks the annual celebration of Pride Month, so we’ve been catching up with some of our LGBTQ+ clubs, to shine the spotlight on the inclusive spaces within badminton, and how we can support them to continue to grow. We took some time to catch up with Molly about her club experience at affiliated LGBTQ+ club Bristol Swifts, and how it’s important to her to celebrate Pride Month with her badminton club.
So Molly, how long have you been playing badminton?
I joined the club in September 2018, so have been playing there for almost two years!
That’s great! Can you tell us a little bit more about what your favourite things about your club, and the badminton family are?
I mostly like how sociable it is as a club. My first ever session, I remember thinking how welcoming everyone was and since then that has blossomed into some great friendships. I also love the opportunities the club and badminton have given me. Last year I joined the team at the Eurogames in Rome which was an incredible experience. I never thought I would be able to play a sport on an international scale and I like that that opportunity is there for players of any ability.
What a fantastic opportunity! It sounds like you’ve experienced plenty through badminton. What impact would you say that badminton has had on you individually? Has it helped you in any way?
It’s hard to describe what a great positive effect it’s had on my life, it brings joy to everyday in some way, whether it’s the social aspect or the physical exercise, and it has allowed me to become a lot more involved in the Bristol LGBT community and gay culture in general. It has made me more open as a person and has greatly improved my confidence in meeting new people. I look forward to the two social badminton nights a week and I now have a great group of friends with whom I regularly meet up with out of club hours, the sport itself has made this happen as you get to bond with people in a way you wouldn’t normally, by playing with them or against them on the court.
June is Pride Month – how are you and the club celebrating this?
We would have been attending Bristol Pride as a club and promoting our sport there, however as this has now been cancelled, we will replace it with a mini celebration of our own. It is incredibly important that we recognise this month so as the club’s social secretary, I am going to organise a gathering (perhaps virtual or in-person) to celebrate it and raise awareness to others.
What advice do you have for anyone from the LGBTQ+ community who wants to start or is thinking about whether to start playing badminton?
Do it! The people you will meet and play with will be some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and the great atmosphere that that creates will keep you coming back week after week. It is not only good exercise but will get you involved in a community that will support you without judgement, so, no matter your ability, you will feel welcomed. And, bonus, you’ll be given the opportunity to play in international tournaments!
Finally, who would you say is your badminton hero?
I would say the founding members of our club. Without them taking the initiative to form this club my life would be very different now and I have them to thank for countless positive experiences from the past two years.
Find LGBTQ+ club Bristol Swifts on Facebook @lgbtbadmintonbristol