Coming out with The Royals
I’ve been playing hockey with the London Royals club for one and a half years now. I’d never played hockey except at school thirty odd years ago. Memories of school hockey didn’t exactly come flooding back – I used to joke that the school I went to was challenging, a bit on the rough side. The hockey played there was a cross between golf and rugby. It was also played only once a year for half a term, so I was a complete novice.
I had recently been divorced and was looking for something to do, keep me occupied and to make a new group of friends. I saw an advertisement for The Royals on ‘Meet Up’ and thought it would be a good thing to take up. They seemed like a very friendly bunch and came across as being really welcoming so I thought I would give it a try.
For me, being older, this was an opportunity to get fit again. It is quite a challenging sport in terms of physicality or can be, depending on how it is played. Also, I’m in it as much for the social life as well as the playing. We go on tours – we went to the Miami Out Games last year and will be going to Paris Gay Games this year. Although the Out Games had problems, (lots of sports were cancelled) we had a good time, mainly because Pink Hockey are very good at organising and managed to pull it all back together and so we did play our tournament.
It is important to belong to an LGBT club. The Royals do welcome everyone, but there is an emphasis on LGBT. For me, as I’d been married and I have children, I’d been seen as part of a couple. I was keen to get more involved with the LGBT side of things and this was an opportunity for me to find out the person I really was inside. I wouldn’t have been able to do that in an ordinary club.
I don’t experience any negatives about being older. The Royals treat me as an individual, I might get ribbed every once in a while but I don’t feel that I’m noticeably older than the others and I don’t get called ‘Grandad’ or anything like that. However, they don’t make any allowances for me on the field except that I play defence rather than mid-field. I feel I’m treated just like everyone else.
The club is so welcoming and they put a real structure in place to support older people joining. A lot of people join clubs as youngsters, teenagers – that’s where they learn their skills. The Royals are different, I don’t think we’ve got any members under eighteen. Those joining tend to be older and the club is used to taking people like me, who have never played hockey before. They encouraged my interest and helped me take my skills to a higher level.
To find our other Out & Active Champions, click on their names.
Viv from BLAGSS
Christopher from Out To Swim
Nigel from Goslings London Badminton Club
Sarah from London Otters Rowing Club
Nash from London Royals Hockey
Tammy from London Royals Hockey
Peter from London Otters Rowing Club
Chris and Tina from Waltzing with Hilda and Pink Jukebox
Joanie from Hackney Women’s Football Club and The Federation of Gay Games
Ann from Gay Gooners
Sarah from Out To Swim
To find out more about the club click
London Royals Hockey
Champion interviews by Christopher Preston
Design for Out & Active by Laura Salisbury
Photography by Alex Grace
Out & Active is kindly
supported by London Sport