Western researchers are looking into how large sporting events, such as the Olympics can be used as a platform to raise awareness of LGBTQ rights, to ultimately achieve positive social change in the future.
Alicia Lapointe, a doctoral student in the faculty of Education, and doctoral student Kyle Rich, as well associate professor Laura Misener from the Faculty of Health Sciences are investigating the work done by Pride House – which sets up large scale international sporting events to welcome LGBTQ athletes and fans.
“When we look at big events like this, it really brings the spotlight on a certain area or place,” says Rich, “this allows individuals or groups and organizations to highlight social issues and address them as well.”
“The biggest example was Sochi, when Russia passed the fragrantly homophobic laws before the games, and then we had this huge awareness that these issues are still prevalent in different areas, and that’s been a theme that’s followed these major games in different places.”
The researchers have identified three pillars that can assist in raising awareness at international sporting events, and these three pillars are:
-Creating Safe Spaces; where LGBTQ athletes and fans are free to be themselves without consequence
-Creating Positive Moments; where LGBTQ athletes are respected, accepted and celebrated
-Identifying Queer Moments; where sexual and gender ‘norms’ can be questioned and disrupted.
The researchers credit the ‘three pillars’ idea to Tara Goldstein from the University of Toronto, and they say creating these spaces at sporting events will increase visibility of LGBTQ people involved in sport, and ultimately draw attention to the communities issues that need to be addressed.
Rich says that he hopes their research paper can help raise awareness on a global level to advance their message through global events other than the Olympics, such as the Pan Am and Parapan AM Games.