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I Felt Like the Only Gay Cricketer: Sam Chambers

Sam Chambers has been out in Leicestershire cricket since his teens, but Steven Davies' story in 2011 and the ECB's Rainbow Laces support have helped to make him feel proud.

This weekend, the ECB is again backing Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign, which is helping to 'make sport everyone's game' by raising awareness around LGBT+ inclusion. There will be visible support for the initiative at Vitality Blast and Kia Super League matches, while players, officials, administrators, broadcasters and fans at all levels of cricket are being invited to get involved by wearing the laces and talking about the game's welcoming culture. So what's cricket like for LGBT+ people? Sky Sports is giving athletes, coaches and others in the sport who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender the opportunity to share their experiences, discuss the challenges they face, and give their views on the progress that's being made on inclusion.

Sam Chambers (Newtown Linford CC, Leicester) I've been playing adult league cricket since I was 16, including for a time in the Leicestershire ECB Premier Division, so I've had 13 years of participating in the sport at a decent level. In all that time, I've always been out and have never hidden the fact that I'm gay from my team-mates, my opponents, or anyone I come into contact with when playing sport.

However, I did recently join a new club - we compete in Division 1 of the Leicestershire and Rutland League - so going from somewhere where I was out to another club where it wasn't common knowledge was a huge change for me. I remember having a drink with the captain after training and he asked if the baby in my WhatsApp picture was my son. I said it wasn't, and he followed up with 'have you got a missus?' I thought 'well, this is as good a time as any to tell him'. He later admitted that he'd never known a gay person before, so he was very careful of what to say - but he's been great about it, as have all the lads.

I'm pretty laid back about it though and happy to have a joke, as long as it's a bit tongue in cheek and not malicious. I've been lucky to never experience much homophobia whilst playing sport - only the occasional remark - and find people have always been accepting. It's been positive for me, although I get that for a professional cricketer who was gay or bisexual and perhaps struggling with that, it would be a different experience.

A careless comment I often play against people who may or may not know that I'm gay, but they simply play me as they would any other opponent - there's no sledging of a personal level, which is as it should be. The only negatives I do have are comments that people make when you first come out to them, like 'oh, you don't look gay' or 'I would never have guessed that'. I'm not sure how I should look or act for them... I'm just me.

One of the few negatives I had was a few years ago at training. A team-mate who's still a good mate of mine commented on what I was wearing when I showed up for training. He shouted in front of everyone 'oh my god, how gay do you look?' In that instant, I felt about two inches tall and really didn't know what to say, with about 15 lads all sat around laughing. I've never called him out on it, but it still sticks with me as being one of the worst experiences I've had.