To celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month we caught up with Makayla Gerken-Schofield, GB Snowsport Moguls Athlete and passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ community.
To celebrate LGBTQ+ History month we first wanted to ask you what being a member of the LGBTQ+ community means to you?
I am proud to say that I am a part of the LGBTQ+ community, trying to educate myself about the community more each day and be there to help others who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality or in any way.
Do you think being your authentic self has an effect on your sporting performance?
I think that taking responsibility helps on a daily basis, if it’s to do with your relationships, your activities or your sporting performance because you feel liberated, you can just be yourself, and not to be constantly trying to play a role in the presence of your relatives.
What do you think that landscape is like for LGBTQ+ people is like in snowsports currently? Is there more than can be done in terms of inclusion?
For this subject in particular I could not say much because I actually came out not long ago, many people call me bisexual but I consider myself as pansexual and I never really had the occasion to talk with a lot of athletes but I would be delighted to meet more people in the LGBTQ+ community in snowsports and to bring my support for someone who would need it.
Is there anyone in particular from the LGBTQ+ Community who inspires you or who you want to spotlight?
I haven’t really looked up to anyone as I never really thought about it if that makes sense, I didn’t really do any research about LGBTQ+ community but looking into it I realised I missed out and I enjoy learning about it so maybe one day I will find someone I look up to.
What would you say to someone within or outside of the snowsports community who is struggling to come to terms with their sexuality?
To take all the time you need to figure it out, it isn’t a race! do whatever you feel the need to do at your own pace. Don’t force yourself to give yourself a label because at the end of the day if you don’t feel the need to label yourself, don’t! That it is okay not to be sure. Protect yourself without hiding (being someone you are not, thinking you need to change who you are to please someone else) and to never forget that you are not the only one to experience this! you are NOT alone.
You can also watch this video: https://youtu.be/vB9M0f9FDiE
Are there any LGBTQ+ causes you would like to highlight?
Fewer than 30 countries recognise same-sex marriage. The first country to recognize marriage equality was the Netherlands, in 2001.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of issues that need to be highlighted, but the problems that sadden me the most are that in 11 jurisdictions in which the death penalty is imposed, 72 jurisdictions around the world that criminalise private, consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex.
Where women are not specifically criminalised, lesbians and bisexual women are often arrested or threatened with arrest. I also believe that schools should teach us about LGBTQ+ community because it shouldn’t be hidden anymore.
There are many more that I could highlight – it is something that society needs to work on and improve.