Interview with the founder of LGBTQ+ and inclusive rugby club Brighton Sea Serpents

Interview with the founder of LGBTQ+ and inclusive rugby club Brighton Sea Serpents

Bigger frames are finally here! We have just released three new bigger styles intended for those with larger fits. In order to find the right models to photograph these new frames, we reached out to a local Brighton inclusive rugby club and they happily obliged! Thanks Sea Serpents.

We caught up with the founder of the Brighton Sea Serpents after the shoot to find out how they got started, and why inclusive sports clubs are important.


How did the Brighton Sea Serpents get their start?

We started off in 2015, when the world cup was in the UK. There were two matches in Brighton as a part of the world cup at the Amex Stadium and we felt that it was the right time to see if there was any need or interest from the LGBTQ+ community in Brighton for a rugby club. This led us to hold a "get to know us" meeting at a bar in Kemptown.

We weren't sure what was going to happen - about 50 guys turned up! (Obviously not all of them wanted to play rugby a lot of them wanted to watch) There is something about the camaraderie in a rugby club which attracts people. A couple of weeks later we had our first training session in queens park.

Roll onto February we had our first match against the Kings Cross Steelers - the first ever gay rugby club in the UK. They won 25 nil but it was a match and we had succeeded in terms of becoming a rugby club. It was a very drunk night that night!

Since then we’ve played against clubs in Sussex and clubs in most of the southeast of England as far even as Bristol and Birmingham and we’ve been to tournaments all over Europe.

We’ve been to the Bingham Cup (coming up again next year), which is a worldwide rugby tournament for gay and inclusive rugby clubs. It’s named after a chap called Mark Bingham who was a passenger on one of the flights on 9/11. He played and was involved in the administration side of things for two rugby clubs the Gotham Knights and the San Francisco Fog (the first gay rugby club on the west coast of the US).

We are going off to Rome in May next year to the next edition of the Bingham cup and we’re hoping that we can take two sides, one of our more experienced players and another of our more developing players who have come to rugby in the past year.

It’s a fantastic way to meet other rugby players in a totally non questioning environment. It will be great fun there! … Lots of bars obviously… and we’re really looking forward to it!


Why do you think inclusive rugby/sports clubs are important?

Not everyone has a good experience with sport at school, and that’s particularly the case for those who stand out from the crowd. Academic research has shown that LGBT people absent themselves from experiences that they think will go wrong for them, and teams sports is one of them. So there’s two points that augur well for us - firstly LGBT people are able to get involved in sport on their own turf, so to speak, where being gay isn’t the worrying thing that it might be when you're at school. The other is that, because we tend to absent ourselves from school sport, we come to the game late. It’s difficult enough to walk into a club where you're unknown but to add to that being gay and being new to the sport - so we are there to say 1) you can play rugby in a good environment for you, 2) we don’t care about your gender or your sexuality and 3) if you don't have any experience we can teach you.

What do you think the players get out of being a part of the Sea Serpents?

I would say there’s three things that stand out as benefits for our members - one, there’s exercise, two there’s camaraderie, and third and most important we offer those in an environment where they can be themselves with no criticism.


Do you have any advice for other people looking to set up their own inclusive spaces/sports clubs?

Don’t put it off, do ask for help from other clubs (for example we had help from the Kings Cross Steelers RFC in London) and don’t forget that you have to enjoy it too.

Read about Mark Bingham and the San Francisco Fog's story here

The Sea Serpents Website