Out on the pitch: sexuality and mental health in men’s and women’s sport, 1970-present    


  • Prof Matthew Smith

    University of Strathclyde

Project summary

Why have more women athletes come out than men? What role has sport played in facilitating or preventing LGBT athletes from coming out, and what positive and negative effects has this had on mental health?

This is a scoping project for a future application for a collaborative study focusing on sport and mental health which has three research strands: sport as therapy; narratives of sport and mental health; and sport as a challenge to mental health. While planning the larger bid, sexuality emerged as an increasingly important theme for its three research strands, but it was also the one that needed the most development, planning and support to research.

We will test methods for recruiting and interviewing athletes about their sexuality, bringing together academics, athletes and activists to inform our approach and to exchange knowledge. We will consult archives to assess their importance to the future project and construct a database of sport autobiographies that deal with sexuality. We will also look at engagement possibilities, including filming a documentary.