As sport celebrates the annual Rainbow Laces activation, Sky Sports Golf Podcast host Josh Antmann is joined by presenter Sarah Stirk for a chat about why visible allyship matters; Out2Golf society Nick Brennan and England Golf’s Diversity Officer Jamie Blair are also guests – listen now
Last Updated: 10/12/21 5:58am
Collin Morikawa started using a yardage book with a rainbow flag cover during Pride Month in June – and it’s still in his pocket now
Collin Morikawa may have let slip a five-shot lead at the Hero World Challenge last weekend, but he nonetheless has plenty to celebrate as 2021 draws to a close.
The 24-year-old is second only to Jon Rahm in the World Golf Rankings after a stellar year that saw him land The 149th Open at Royal St George’s, help the USA regain the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, and become America’s first Race to Dubai champion.Meanwhile, last Thursday, Morikawa announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend Katherine Zhu, telling the PGA Tour’s official website how he proposed to her on a beach in the Bahamas a couple of days previously.His Instagram post, with a picture of the couple, has so far received over 100,000 likes, with fellow pros Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau and Kevin Na among those to send well wishes. Morikawa’s week of personal highs off the course and final-day difficulties at Albany is discussed at the start of the latest episode of the Sky Sports Golf Podcast, hosted by Josh Antmann.It’s a special edition to mark the annual activation of the Rainbow Laces campaign for LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport, supported by Sky Sports as a member of TeamPride – and there’s a tie-in to Morikawa too.The Californian is one of several players on tour who is bringing a small but significant splash of rainbow to the fairways.”We’ve seen that visibility a lot in football and rugby,” says Josh. “We haven’t seen loads in golf, although Collin Morikawa had his Pride yardage book [at Albany] which I thought was brilliant.” Listen or subscribe on:Sarah provides a handy explainer. “That’s with sponsor Grant Thornton [an accountancy firm] – they work with quite a few of the LPGA and PGA pros. They were big supporters of Pride Month back in June.” Several pro golfers have been using the Pride yardage books on tour this year – pictured here is women’s number one Nelly Korda While there is LGBTQ+ representation on the women’s tour, there are currently no out gay or bi professional players on the men’s side of the sport.Sarah says having visible allies such as Morikawa, who has continued to use the yardage book displaying the Progress Pride flag since first carrying it in the summer, sends out a powerful message.”It’s a really important point,” she adds. “It’s about the allies as well.”It’s not just about having LGBT+ people at the top of their games like Josh Cavallo – the Australian footballer who recently came out – and those role models, but also having those straight allies in golf or football to say, ‘I’m with you, I support you, I’m here’.”So for people to see Collin with that Pride flag is amazing. I think it’s a brilliant thing.” ‘Role models are vital for kids growing up’Later in the episode, Nick Brennan – the chair of Out2Golf, an inclusive golf society for players who are LGBTQ+ and for allies – describes how he connected last year with Tadd Fujikawa, the former PGA Tour pro who came out publicly as gay in 2018.Brennan describes how stories such as Fujikawa’s are inspirational for others who love golf and who can relate to his story. At the age of 15, the Hawaii-born player was the youngest to ever qualify for the men’s US Open and went on to feature at the 2006 tournament at Winged Foot. In his Instagram post three years ago, Tadd Fujikawa wrote how reading about the stories of other LGBTQ+ people ‘helped me in my darkest times’ He was 27 when he came out via an Instagram post on World Suicide Prevention Day, explaining how he had struggled with his mental health for several years due to fears over not being accepted for his sexuality.For Sarah, who shared her own truth publicly in an interview with Attitude magazine earlier this year, individuality is something that should be celebrated.”We’re very lucky in this country and I think particularly in this time in the UK that we’re celebrating authenticity a lot,” she tells Josh on the podcast.”I think that’s really powerful. There seems to be a real push and trend to own who you are, to be who you are, to be completely comfortable – and that’s not always easy. Sarah Stirk has been a presenter with Sky Sports Golf for nearly a decade “I’ve struggled with that with my life, and my career. But I think the more campaigns that are out there, like Rainbow Laces, it’s going to help young people to say, ‘there’s the visibility and awareness, there’s my favourite footballer wearing the laces in a Premier League match.'”Those role models are so vital for kids growing up now and if they’re seeing that it’s OK to be different, that it’s OK to be gay, then that’s going to help make so many young people’s lives easier as they navigate their way through adolescence and adulthood.” Sky Sports is a member of TeamPride which supports Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, currently receiving its annual activation from November 25 to December 12.Your story of being LGBTQ+ or an ally could help to make sport everyone’s game – please contact us here to discuss further.