PRIDE: Celebrating LGBTQ+ Athletes -  Jake Williamson Shares his Story

PRIDE is a month-long celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s intended to recognise their contributions to society, and to raise awareness of the challenges they face. It’s also an opportunity to support LGBTQ+ people with educational events that promote inclusivity and diversity.

At Prep Kitchen, we value diversity, and strive to create a culture where all of our customers, employees, and ambassadors feel welcome, heard, and respected. We’re proud to have Jake Williamson supporting our brand. Jake is a driving force for the LGBTQ+ community in sport: he has partnered with charities such as Stonewall in order to promote inclusivity, and continues to fight against homophobia / discrimination in sport. As well as being a key role model, Jake is an elite level athlete himself. He is a current Hyrox World Record holder, a new sport that has seen exponential growth in the last two years.

Jake is also the founder of Better the Next Day (BTND), an online and in-person wellbeing space with a mission to enable anyone to become an athlete.

BTND aims to create a safe, welcoming space for the population with a large focus on inclusion and accessibility. The initiative offers gym space, in-person seminars, wellbeing retreats, fitness classes, online training, and mass participation events. BTND also offers sponsorship and support for LGBTQ+ athletes.

I had a chat with Jake about his own journey so far, and asked him about the challenges he’s faced and how he overcame them.

* Can you tell us about any struggles you have encountered as a gay athlete?

The biggest struggle was the mental battle actually coming to terms with my sexuality. With no role models or people to look up to, it was really hard to validate my feelings towards men. Once I came out, it definitely became easier as an athlete mentally. I did still have a few issues - including being removed from a football team when they found out I was gay - but overall, the experience since has been great.

* How did you cope with this?

My biggest advice to anyone who’s got questions around their sexuality is to speak to someone - a close friend, therapist, or even a random stranger on a helpline - where you can just verbalise your thoughts. I made it tough for myself because I kept everything in my head, which can have a really big impact on your mental health.

* Has being part of our inclusive PK community helped to empower you mentally and/or physically? Has it helped to build your confidence?

Having a team around to support you and be proud of you is so rewarding, but after I was kicked off the football team, I didn’t play again and really missed that team spirit. However, I have now found a network and a group of people who do accept who I am, and Prep Kitchen is a great part of that support system.

* What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the community that BTND has created and the friendships that It has allowed others to form. Getting people moving their bodies and doing sports which they might not have done before.

* Can you tell us more about the dedicated PRIDE run on 25th June?

PRIDE means different things for different people.

 I like to define it as being authentically yourself and loving yourself for all that you are. Having to hide a big part of who you are means that when you get to embrace that part of you should be proud. 

Unfortunately hiding it comes with a little bit of trauma, and PRIDE can be the one place or time where you don't have to feel any shame - you can be unapologetically ‘you’. 

The run is an alternative way to celebrate that through movement. Movement is beautiful and being LGBTQ+ is also beautiful - let’s bring the two together for a lovely afternoon of running queerness. 

The run took place on 25th June, starting at the Lululemon store in Covent Garden, and was a huge success!

We’re so grateful to Jake for opening up to us, and sharing his experiences and advice. His positive attitude and strength will undoubtedly serve to inspire and encourage other LGBTQ+ athletes to be open about their sexuality and gender.

If you have been inspired by Jake’s story, or want to find out more about BTND and the PRIDE run, follow Jake and BTND on Instagram.

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Posted in News on by Kerry Beeson BSc (Nut Med) Nutritional Therapist & Metabolic Balance Coach