Chris recently agreed to a Q&A Interview with Journalist Fran Stephan. She has kindly permitted for some of the results from that interview to be published on Chris’s new blog …
Q) Can you tell me a bit about your earlier life? …
A) Chris started his sporting career aged 16, playing Rugby Union for Leicester Tigers. After playing for the tigers for five years, an unfortunate injury meant he could no longer pursue his rugby career. At this time in his life Chris had been dating women but said that “the gay thing was still there” and he knew that something had to change in his life.
Q) When did you realise you were gay?
A) He knew he was gay from an early age but kept thinking maybe it would go away or things would change. He said: “I couldn’t have been openly gay in that team sports environment. 20 years ago when I played rugby I don’t think the world was ready for an openly gay rugby player.”
Q) How did you get into Powerlifting?
A) It was by chance that in 1998 he met his first coach, Jim Atkinson at Soho Athletic Club, London. Jim challenged him to put his strength to good use in the sport of powerlifting, which was when he decided to come out at the age of 23. He said it wasn’t really difficult publically coming out, his family already had their suspicions, it was just a question of confirming it really.
Q) Where did you start?
A) His first ever competition was at the Gay Games in 1998 where he described himself as “coming out like a raging bull”. He has always been grateful to the Gay Games for what he describes as his “second chance” to participate in sports as an openly gay man.
Q) How many titles do you hold?
A) Chris was one of the first openly gay male athletes to win mainstream world medals in his sport. He has since been World Champion seven times, European Champion three times, British National Champion fourteen times and has won six gold medals at the Gay Games. He is also a multiple British and World record holder in his sport.
Q) What has been the highlight of your career so far?
A) He mentioned that each one of his world titles was special, but one of the highlights of his career was winning the World Deadlift Championship 2010 at the Russian Olympic Weightlifting Centre in Moscow. Due to Russia’s anti-gay legislation and propaganda Chris felt he had a point to prove and said “I just knew I had to win in Moscow!”
Q) What would be your biggest tip for anyone wanting to go into powerlifting?
A) “Stop saying you’re going to do it and actually do it!” Plenty of people say they want to compete but never do it, he suggests just getting up on the platform, giving it a go and no matter how it goes just build from there. Find some experienced powerlifters or a local powerlifting club and don’t be frightened to ask them for help.
Q) How difficult is it to be openly gay in a sporting environment?
A) Chris confesses he thinks it is still quite difficult to be gay in a sporting environment and described it as still taboo in some places, but is pleased that times are changing and a lot more people are coming out, sighting examples Matthew Mitcham, Michael Sam ,Tom Daley and Ian Thorpe.
Q) Can you tell me more about your role as an Ambassador for the Gay Games?
A) He has been a Global Ambassador to the Federation of Gay Games since 2004, as this is the organisation that gave him the confidence and motivation to be an openly gay athlete. His role is to inspire young athletes worldwide to be open and proud about their sexuality. Chris highlights that the tenth edition of the Gay Games will next be held in Paris, France in August 2018.
Q) What charities and causes do you currently work with?
A) Chris does lots of work for charities, particularly those related to homophobia. He is currently a patron of the Pink Triangle Theatre Group who performs their show in schools and colleges with powerful messages to help tackle issues such as homophobia, bigotry, hatred and intolerance.
He has also championed the important work being done by the following organisations and good causes. LGBT History Month, Pride Sports, The Justin Campaign, The Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Charter Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Sports.
Chris Morgan is a seven time World Champion in Powerlifting and a Global Ambassador for the Federation of Gay Games. The next Gay Games are scheduled to take place in Paris in 2018. For more information about the Gay Games visit www.gaygames.com and www.paris2018.com