LGBTQ+

BSUK logo in rainbow coloursSoftball in the UK has a long history of being a welcoming and inclusive sport for members of the LGBTQ+ community, and this is supported by a survey carried out by BaseballSoftballUK in 2016, which suggested that 14% of players identify as LGBTQ+, compared to roughly 8% of the population as a whole.

LGBTQ+ players are spread throughout a baseball and softball playing community of more than 26,200 in cities and towns around the UK.

Prior to 2017, BSUK’s direct work with the LGBTQ+ community took place primarily in London and Manchester; the BSUK LGBTQ+ Committee (former Panel) was created then to widen the scope and reach of that work.

The LGBTQ+ Committee

The purpose of the Committee is to work as a sounding board for BSUK’s LGBTQ+ work.  In addition, the Committee will help to draft relevant policy and will formally engage more people from the baseball and softball communities in the development of the sports for LGBTQ+ participants.  The Committee will oversee the foundation of the BSUK LGBTQ+ network, Out on the Bases, in November 2020.

Below are some brief statements by or about each of the Committee members:

Chess Bygrave

I strive to understand and learn more about LGBTQ+ history and current issues.  I have been coaching adult softball, and part of my drive for increasing LGBTQ+ participation and inclusivity is to increase people’s confidence to be unashamedly  and unapologetically themselves.

Pronouns: They/Them

 

 

Luis Arrevillagas

I am the Development Manager for BSUK in the North West.  I've played baseball since I was five and Softball for the last 10 years.  I live in Manchester and I'm very passionate about getting people involved in sports.  Baseball and Softball are very inclusive and they are a great tool to get everyone together having fun.  I have been the chair of the LGBTQ+ Committee since its foundation and have greatly enjoyed meeting so many people in the process.

 


Cristian Speroni

I have played for the past five years with the London Raiders.  Having never played before joining, I have gone through the process of learning the sport from scratch as well as engaging with my wider LGBTQ+ community.  I have served on the Raiders’ committee for the past three years as the treasurer as well as getting involved in other areas such as training, social and tournaments.  I value the importance of sport within the LGBTQ+ community as a means of confidence-building, socialising and community-building.

 

Thomas Haywood

I am an international baseball umpire who is gay, with many years of experience umpiring for the BBF and in Europe, and I am an event leader for Outdoorlads, who run a range of sociable outdoor activities for gay and bisexual men right across the UK.

 

 

 

Kate Densley

I am President of the University of York Softball and Baseball Club and started my softball journey two years ago when I began my studies at York. I was immediately drawn in by the inclusive nature of the club, and the sports as a whole, which is something I strive to uphold and promote during my presidency. I love welcoming new members and showing them the non-judgemental, warm and friendly atmosphere that softball and baseball offers. These sports are a great fit for the LGBTQ+ community and I hope to help increase LGBTQ+ sports participation among young people & in universities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Katie Hall

I have been playing softball for the London Raiders for over 13 years and have participated as a committee member and team captain over the years.  I love the way softball can bring together people from all walks of life, and that as a community we are striving to be inclusive.  I look forward to helping baseball and softball find creative ways to pioneer LGBTQ+ involvement in sport and share our learning with the international softball community and beyond.

Pronouns: She/her/they/them

 

Alyson Spinas-Valainis

I am a non binary panromantic asexual professional fastpitch player for Olympia Haarlem in The Netherlands and the Fastpitch Development Manager for BaseballSoftballUK and The British Softball Federation. I have played and coached in New Zealand, Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Italy, and The Netherlands since leaving the states in 2015. Since then, inclusion, progress, and community have been the staples of my time as a player and coach, and, now based in The UK for the foreseeable future, I am eager to continue it to pay it forward and facilitate a safe space for every member of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies alike.

                                                        Pronouns: They/Them

Linni Mitchell

As a baseball/softball coach in the North West I value how inclusive softball is and have run Manchester’s Pride tournament annually since 2015 alongside Luis. More recently I have been successful in obtaining funding to run softball sessions for LGBTQ+ youths for local charity The Proud Trust. I joined the LGBT committee in 2018 as an ally to the LGBT community and hope to continue to move forward with promoting our sports and maintaining our track record of being one of the most inclusive sports on the planet.

 

Out on the Bases

Out on the Bases is BSUK's LGBTQ+ network, providing a safe space for LGBTQ+ baseball and softball players and their allies.

Request to join the group here.

Committee Work and Information To Date

  • Committee formed in May 2017, first meeting guest was Lou Englefield director of Pride Sport
  • Created BSUK LGBTQ+ website page on the BSUK website
  • Defined the BSUK LGBTQ+ Committee Ethos
  • Created Inclusive Slowpitch softball rules and linked to the LGBT page (See Resources)
  • Supported a team travelling to Paris for the Gay Games in June 2018
  • Supported the running of the annual LGBTQ+ tournaments in Manchester
  • Member's blogs on the BSUK website (Further blogs always welcome!)
  • Katie, founder member, wrote an article for Diva magazine on being a LGBT softball player
  • Connected with Stonewall and Sport England through BSUK staff to inform of the Committee's work
  • Have had 10 members of the playing community as members of the LGBTQ+ Committee, including non-LGBTQ+ players.
  • We're working on a document ‘Including people who are trans and gender non-conforming in baseball and softball’
  • Worked with Markita from Transcan and Brighton Beachcomers Softball club to bring softball to that part of the community.
  • Launched Out on the Bases networking group in December 2020.

Want to get involved?

The LGBT Advisory Committee is open to new members and welcomes guests at its meetings.

If you have an interest in the work of the Committee, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Our Ethos

Articles:

LGBT Panel looks to the future

LGBT Advisory Panel looks for visibility with the playing community

Umpiring with rubber baseballs in Xi'an, China

Funds awarded for BSUK to continue LGBT work in Manchester

Nine teams battle for LGBT Tournament trophy in Manchester

BBF umpire Thomas Haywood features on BBC LGBT Sport Podcast

Record number of teams battle at the 4th Manchester LGBT Tournament

LGBT Panel holds fourth meeting and looks to the future

LGBT groups feature in North West development work

Third Manchester LGBT tournament thrives in the rain 

LGBT Advisory Panel looks for visibility with the playing community

BSUK’s work with the LGBT community pays dividends in participation

BSUK seeking members for new LGBT Advisory Panel

Carnival atmosphere at Manchester LGBT Rookie Charity Tournament

London Raiders win Manchester LGBT Tournament

Baseball and softball proving a hit for the LGBT community

Blogs:

January 2018 - Take me out to the ball game (Katie Margaret Hall)

08 September 2019 - Playing with Pride (Stuart Dunlop)

Podcasts

BBF umpire Thomas Haywood on BBC LGBT Sport Podcast

Resources:

Inclusive Softball Rules

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