Jamie Gane, a below-the-knee amputee, has faced struggle throughout his life, from medical concerns to bullying because of his sexuality. Jamie has persevered despite the obstacles he has experienced to become an international adaptive athlete in Judo, Obstacle Course Racing and the throwing sports, a motivational speaker, and role model for the next generation. Jamie speaks about his mental and physical journey at events, sharing the lessons he’s learned.
We spoke with Jamie to hear about his journey of how he started judo as well as his personal journey of coming out.
How did you first get into judo?
I actually started judo at a very young age, around 5. My older brother was a member of the team at school and I had always aspired to be like him as a young child. I loved jumping around on the mat and subsequently learning techniques until I didn’t want to get off. Because of my medical condition, I unfortunately had to stop at the age of about 9 but my love didn’t stop for the 14 years that I wasn’t able to get on the mat. As soon as I was able to walk again, I was back on, raring to go.
Did you feel you could speak to anyone about it at any point previously?
Coming out isn’t a single, let alone simple process. For me, there was no ‘coming out’ as such. I have always been very open about my attraction to humans, irrespective of their gender identity. I had always had girlfriends throughout my younger years but when I suddenly found myself falling in love with a man, I made it clear that I was falling in love with him for the wonderful person he is, not his gender.
How was it accepted at the time?
I have always been very black and white about people’s acceptance and adopted the phrase ‘t is what it is.’ Unfortunately, not everyone accepted it, but I had made my stance very clear. If people weren’t allowing themselves to accept my love in any form, I wouldn’t allow them to be a part of it. Fortunately, I had the maturity, life experience and a wonderful partner to support me through it.
How have you been accepted as being gay by the judo community?
I certainly wouldn’t describe my identity as gay but to be honest, it’s not something that I have ever really spoken about. While I talk about my partner openly, I have never felt the need to make it evidently clear that he is male. I clearly use male pronouns and really, this is what acceptance is about – by talking about my partner openly and freely, it should be as normal as a conversation about a girlfriend, mother, brother or sister. People don’t think twice about talking about their wives, so I don’t think twice about being open about my male partner – I think this is an essential step to a more equal and accepting community.
Have you ever faced any discrimination as a result of your sexuality – either from the judo community or wider society?
The Judo community, especially the adaptive community, is incredibly welcoming. I am very open and honest and fortunately, have never faced discrimination because of my partner’s gender.