As Pride Celebrations wrap up across the country 2022 Gilbert Champion Meagan Dunn shares her own experiences coming out and finding support and community in rugby.
by Meagan Dunn
2022 Gilbert Champion and member of the Halifax Rugby Football Club
In the past year of uncertainty and confusion of the global pandemic, many people have come to find clarity within themselves. Celebrities like Demi Lovato, Rebel Wilson, Jojo Siwa and many others have found their sexuality and/or gender through these difficult times and I experienced this as well. Before I came to understand my sexuality, I felt indifferent, no clothes really made me feel comfortable, my hair was a nuisance and I just didn't fit in with the girls or the boys in behaviour and interests. This was what I dealt with until 2020, my grade 10 year which was cut short due to the pandemic. In that time, I came out to my mother and family as a lesbian to which my mother, sister and father replied “I know”. This was an emotional and physical breakthrough for me. I am very fortunate to have a family that is understanding and open to my sexuality while I recognize not all families are. Since I came out, it seems as though I have become a whole new person. I have changed what I wear into a style that suits me, I cut my hair and feel as though I have found a group of people I do fit in with which is the LGBTQ+ community.
Meagan Dunn (right) with HRFC Social Director & Executive Team member Maddison Dennison (left).
Through my newfound sexuality and seemingly by coincidence, I found another community that I did not expect to have the effect that it did. In 2021, I made the Halifax West High School Rugby team. I grew to love the sport and enjoy the support of my coach and my teammates. In that year, I also found my current partner who was also on the team. I knew that there were a few other LGBTQ+ people on the high school team. I didn't realize the number of LGBTQ+ people involved in rugby until my first summer rugby season with my local club Halifax Rugby Football Club (HRFC). Through HRFC I met many people who were similar to me in their love for rugby and being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I became a part of the rugby family. Rugby is more than a sport where we destroy our own and each other's bodies through tackling and throwing ourselves into any and all rucks. It is a community where no matter your race, gender, sexuality or size you have a place and a purpose within the sport or the club and are welcome with open arms to encourage each and every individual to use their differences and to grow upon them. Rugby has shown me that everyone has a place, both in the game and in the community, a community that I am proud to be a part of.
In 2022, I gained confidence both in myself personally and as a rugby player. I was Defensive Captain of my high school team for my final year and was improving my skills each and every game I played. I have also become more involved through my platform as a Gilbert Champion. I am able to work with Gilbert to promote what my club, HRFC, is doing for our own pride. As I have previously said, our club is very diverse in many ways and this year we had the opportunity to be a part of the Halifax Nova Scotia Pride Parade with our own float to promote both the LGBTQ+ community and HRFC, while proudly wearing our new Pride shirts. The entire club, not only the LGBTQ+ members, are excited for this and the many other opportunities and plans in store to involve the LGBTQ+ community in rugby. Participating in these events provides the opportunity for everyone to meet new people, both similar and different to themselves, be exposed to a new sport and truly do what the rugby and LGBTQ+ communities are meant to do - be inclusive, work together and support everyone on the team.
In telling my story of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and how rugby has given me the confidence and support to embrace and live as my true self, I hope to inspire people not only to play rugby but to encourage young people like me, who never felt like they fit in with really any group of people, to go out and find a community that supports you and makes
Halifax Rugby Football Club out in full force to celebrate Halifax Pride - July 16, 2022
At Gilbert Rugby Canada we are grateful to be able to share the stories of our amazing 2022 Gilbert Champions. Thank you Meagan for sharing your journey thus far and for inspiring other young people to find inclusive spaces.
As Meagan mentioned in her story, while her high school and rugby club are both safe spaces for 2SLGTBQ+ youth - not all young people have access to inclusive communities. There are some amazing organizations both inside and outside of rugby to support you and we will list them below.
"It Gets Better Canada" is a Canada wide program supporting 2SLGTBQ+ youth
Kids Help Phone is a Canada wide mental health support chat line for youth with specific support for 2SLGTBQ+ youth
Most rugby clubs in Canada actively support diversity and inclusion, and there are several clubs that were created as safe spaces for 2SLGTBQ+
including The Vancouver Rogues, The Rainbow Griffins (who are the first club in Canada to have youth program) and Muddy York in Toronto and the Ottawa Wolves.
All four of these teams will be competing in The Bingham Cup in Ottawa on August 13th- 21st, 2022. The Bingham Cup, also known as the Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, is the biennial world championships of gay and inclusive rugby.