October 2020: Kate Howey wrote a letter to herself reflecting on her achievements within judo and in her personal life.
Stepping onto the judo mat when she was only 7 years old and coached by her father, Kate has always had a passion for Judo and was destined to go on to big things within her Judo career. Becoming Junior World Champion in 1990 she went on to win Olympic bronze aged 19 at the 1992 Barcelona Games. 2000 saw Kate win silver at the Sydney Olympic Games.
Coming out as gay to her parents at 21 years old, Kate wouldn’t speak publicly about her sexuality for another 24 years. Reflecting on her letter that she wrote to herself about her Judo career and how society has changed becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community.
What encouraged you to write a letter to yourself?
Writing the letter to raise awareness and break the stigma, Kate shared how she felt while growing up, “I wanted to tell everyone how I felt growing up and that the stigma around being gay was like in the 90s”. This letter was created to give support and to show the world the real Kate. Commenting on why she wrote the letter Kate said: “I wanted people to know how I felt and to show that I was proud of who I am”. Now a parent, this letter was written for him as she wanted to help support him throughout life, “this letter was written more for my son, I know he might get a little bit of prejudice for having two mums”. This letter was written for her little boy to understand that he can go and speak to both Kate and her partner. Commenting on how both Kate and her partner are open to their son and want to make him feel that he can speak to both his parents about how he is feeling“I want him to talk and to feel that it’s ok to talk about it”. Another reason why Kate wrote the letter was so she could show her son the real Kate Howey, and how the world and judo have accepted her, “I want to show my son who I am”. Reflecting on her own experiences, Kate mentioned how this letter was written to support others and not just her family “to try and help other young people in the same situation and to say that it’s alright to come out”. She also mentioned how the world has changed and become more accepting, “the world is changing”.
How accepting is society towards the LGBTQ+ Community?
Society’s views toward the LGBTQ+ community have changed to become more accepting, “there has definitely been a change, the pride symbol before people would look at it and think of a rainbow, but now they think of LGBTQ+”. In recent years there have been more education and understanding around LGBTQ+ topics, “there is more awareness and understanding for what the rainbow stands for”. More generations and more people are understanding the meaning behind the pride rainbow and what the LGBTQ+ community is advocating for, “younger generations and my generation will recognise it and understand the meaning”. Overall, society’s views have changed, in sports, there are still many more changes to be made to be more accepting, “in the world of sport, it has got a long way to go, there are a lot more people choosing to come out”. As we are living in a social media-heavy world, it is becoming harder to hide things from the internet, “I think social media and the way it is, it’s quite hard to hide, back in the 90s you didn’t have phones with cameras or social media”. Social media has also had a positive impact on society, “celebrities are more forthcoming to come out and it’s more acceptable in society”.
How accepting is judo and the LGBTQ+ community?
Throughout her career, Judo has always been welcoming, working with British Judo, the association has been accepting and welcoming of Kate, “I have never felt any prejudice and I think it’s generational”. When coaching at the British Judo Association, Kate has noticed that the young athletes and younger generations are accepting of all sexualities; “The youngsters have more of an understanding than older people”. Kate goes on to mention how the BJA is accepting and that everyone who works or trains with the organisation is very accepting, “they’ve been fine with it, staff wise we’ve got two same-sex couples with children. As an Association it’s very accepting”.