The Changing Nature of Gay Rugby Clubs in the United Kingdom

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Appalachian State University
  • | 2 University of Winchester
  • | 3 Bournemouth University
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Rugby has traditionally existed as a leading definer of masculinity in British culture, which has included overt homophobia. However, cultural attitudes toward homosexuality have improved rapidly in the 21st century. To assess the impact of wider societal change on gay rugby teams, we employed a multiple methods investigation across five gay rugby teams in England. Results show that, whereas athletes once played for these teams to escape homophobia in broader rugby culture, this is no longer true. Affiliation with gay clubs is now primarily for social purposes, and gay rugby clubs now protect the physical safety of gay men from being less prepared to play the game, whereas before it was safety from homophobia. This research shows that gay rugby clubs have undergone an organizational shift in response to the increased social acceptance of sexual minorities.

Muir is with the Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA. Anderson and Letts are with the University of Winchester, Winchester, United Kingdom. Parry was with the University of Winchester, Winchester, United Kingdom; and is now with Bournemouth University, Poole, United Kingdom.

Letts (d.letts.19@unimail.winchester.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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