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10 LGBTQ trailblazers from the world of sport

Meet the movers and shakers who form the Sports category in the inaugural Attitude 101 list.

2021-01-22

The inaugural Attitude 101 list is here, and we're shining a rainbow-coloured spotlight on 100 LGBTQ trailblazers - and one Person of the Year - whose contributions to their fields are changing the world as we know it.

After a difficult year, it's time to look firmly to the future as we celebrate queer accomplishments from across a range of sectors.

Attitude 101 consists of 10 categories, each containing 10 individuals, and importantly forgoes any kind of ranking; instead highlighting the collective power of our community's individual achievements.

Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey appears on the cover of the Attitude 101 February issue, out now

The categories are as follows: Science, technology, engineering & mathematics; Fashion and design; Sport; Third Sector & Community; The Future (25 and Under), supported by Clifford Chance; Media and Broadcast; Financial & Legal; Arts & Entertainment. Plus a very special Person of the Year, whose achievements in 2020 have set a new precedent for what's possible for LGBTQ people. 

Here, we focus on the athletes and managers making a splash in sports.

The sporting world has not always been kind to LGBTQ community, but these trailblazers are changing that. Check them out below:

Luke Tuffs - Football manager for Ashford Town FC

As the highest-ranked manager to come out in English football, Luke Tuffs holds the reins at eighth-tier Ashford Town.

“I’ve been in The Times, on the BBC, 5 Live, TalkSport and all sorts,” Tuffs recalls. “I keep them [the cuttings and clips] because one day I want to have kids and I want them to be proud of me. With the Rainbow Laces campaign [which raises awareness of LGBT inclusion in sport] and being the only out coach, really, I get this amount of media attention every year, so I am used to it now. On the playing-staff side, I’m in the eighth tier of English football and I’m the highest out person — that’s not right.”

“As a player, I’ve been spat on, I’ve had people threaten to stab me and all sorts. We have to fight to stop that homophobic abuse, which includes hatred from the terraces, and allowing a team spirit to develop on my side counters that.”

Michael Gunning - Professional swimmer representing Jamaica

A swimmer who competed for Jamaica at the 2017 and 2019 World Aquatics Championships, Michael Gunning gets his crack at the Olympic dream in 2021.

Gunning first came to our attention on Courtney Act’s show, The Bi Life, coming out in 2018, but it was winning an Attitude Pride Award for sport in 2019 that gave him a platform: “I’m a gay man representing a country where it’s illegal to be gay, and while it’s a privilege to represent my dad’s heritage, it’s hard knowing the reality for our community in Jamaica. I hope by being visible I create an appetite for change.”

Hugo Scheckter - Footballer care consultant


After successful behind-the-scenes stints at Premier League football clubs Southampton and West Ham United, Hugo Scheckter has just set up his own agency, The Player Care Group, which does what it says on the tin.

The rationale? A happy footballer is a successful footballer. You’d imagine, wouldn’t you, that any club would have a structure in place to protect their players and thereby their investment? Fact is, many don’t.

So, Mr Chairman, if you’re tired of seeing your athletes partying when they shouldn’t be, gambling because they’re bored, or falling out of nightclubs, call Hugo.

Tom Daley - Team GB diver

Team GB’s poster boy, Adidas Ambassador, husband, father and on the cusp of a fourth Olympics appearance at the age of just 26, Tom Daley has packed a lot in.

From the loss of his father to coming out, and then marrying screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and becoming a dad to Robbie, aged two, his has been a very public life. But that has made the man: good-humoured, sharp-witted, completely focused on becoming an Olympic champion.

He has hosted, and won, Attitude Awards, but what we yearn for now is to see him wearing (only) that gold medal. Let 2021 deliver.

Matt Bishop - Communications director, author and F1 racing expert

Formerly editor of F1 Racing magazine, then communications director of the McLaren Formula 1 team, Matt Bishop’s presence among the higher echelons of motorsport is atypical, and power to him.

The past two years have seen him as part of the groundbreaking, all-female racing W Series, and he’s written an extraordinary first novel, The Boy Made the Difference, set against the narrative of the Aids crisis in London in the late 1980s.

A former ‘buddy’ at London Lighthouse and a founder ambassador of Racing Pride, he’s back in F1 for 2021, as communications director of the newly branded Aston Martin team.

Amazin LeThi - Bodybuilder, author and advocate

Born in Saigon and left at an orphanage by her mother, Amazin LeThi was adopted by an Australian family and so ended up as the only non-white face at school in her new home country.

As a result, she suffered sustained bullying, including from a teacher who told her – in front of the class – that she’d “amount to nothing more than a potato-peeler”.

Tell that to the champion bodybuilder and personal trainer to Olympic athletes, members of the special forces and celebrities various she became, and to the girl who later met President-elect Joe Biden at the White House.

Levi Davis - Rugby player


He’s an up-and-coming rugby union player with England aspirations, having made eight appearances for Gallagher Premiership side Bath before moving to ambitious Championship combatants Ealing.

He’s also — sidebar — a former X-Factor contestant — remember when that was a thing? But, most pertinently, he revealed last September that he is bisexual, to what he describes as “overwhelmingly positive reaction within the game”.

Though rugby’s record of support for out, proud players is legend, Davis says he came out for himself: “You have to live in your own mind, so make it a nice place and be true to yourself.”

Lendale Johnson - Former ATP tennis player


Billie-Jean King and Martina Navratilova blazed a rainbow trail in women’s tennis, but in the men’s game, former world number 67 Brian Vahaly (in 2017) was the first and only player to come out, though he later said around 30 players identified to him privately.

That makes Lendale Johnson, class of July 2020, a bit special.

“As a black, gay man, I couldn’t see myself represented in professional tennis,” he says. “So I’ve had to forge my own path.”

That includes launching the Johnson High Performance Tennis Academy in New York while waiting out the pandemic. May his authenticity be rewarded.

Collin Martin - Football player, San Diego Loyal 


As the world’s only out, professional footballer, American Collin Martin had achieved what you’d hope for any gay sportsman: normalcy.

Having dealt publicly with his sexuality in June 2018, by February 2020 he’d signed for San Diego Loyal and was enjoying playing under coach Landon Donovan, former captain of the US national team.

Then, in September, during a match versus Phoenix Rising, he was called a “batty boy” by opponent Junior Flemmings, which triggered a chain of events culminating in his team-mates leaving the field in support of him, to their eternal credit. By such actions we dare to bring change.

Charlie Martin - Racing driver

In Charlie Martin we have a genuine transgender hero in our midst, competing in some of the hardest-fought motor-racing series in the UK and Europe.

Her career has advanced through British Hillclimb and supporting the British GT Championship, to the Michelin Le Mans Cup and the 2020 German VLN Championship, which saw her become the first transgender person to compete in the Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race.

She finished fourth in class. For 2021, Martin, an ambassador for the Racing Pride initiative, has signed for the Praga team in the Britcar championship. Don’t bet against her…

See the full list of 101 LGBTQ trailblazers in the Attitude 101 February issue, out now to download and to order globally.

Subscribe in print and get your first three issues for just £3, or digitally for just over £1 per issue.