Words: Thomas Stichbury; images: Markus Bidaux
Sky Sports Golf presenter Sarah Stirk says she is ready to own her sexuality and come out swinging for the LGBTQ+ community.
Sarah wears jumpsuit by Norma Kamali at Matches Fashion, necklace by River Island, and shoes by Whistles
“I didn’t want to be talked about. I didn’t want the athletes or the golfers that I was speaking to, I didn’t want them to be like, ‘Have you seen the new Sky Sports presenter? She’s only into girls’ or whatever. I wanted to be talked about for being professional,” she begins.
“I do wish I’d been more comfortable with it and more open earlier because I know suppressing it a little bit, that’s caused me some issues, definitely; not being open and honest with people. But at work it was a case of, I just want to do my job, I didn’t want to be a label.”
Describing herself as “quite a private person”, the 43-year-old was inspired by her Sky Sports colleague and Attitude sports editor Mark McAdam – who publicly came out in 2014 – to spill the tee about her experiences as a gay woman.
“I have definitely struggled with it [my sexuality] for many years and I was quite guarded and closed, but I think that’s my personality… The last few years, I’ve just become really comfortable and much more – I don’t have an issue talking about anything now,” she insists.
“Life’s too short, isn’t it? If somebody doesn’t like me, or whatever, fine. I only care about the people I care about. I’ve had to learn that. I think that is part of this [interview] as well. I want to feel proud of myself for doing it; if it’s there in black and white, I can say, ‘Here’s an interview I did in Attitude.’ The bottom line is: I don’t give a s**t any more!”
Sarah wears dress by Whistles
The TV broadcaster – who last year launched new series Life Lessons Through Sport, featuring the likes of ice-skating champ Adam Rippon – adds that she wants to “have a voice in the community.”
“I am proud of who I am, and if I can be more a part of the community – [as I said] I shied away from it, because I didn’t want to be labelled, whereas now I think, but I am a part of the community, and I’m also Sarah, I’m a presenter, these are my interests,” she continues.
“I’ve led quite a selfish life in the job I do. As a lot of sportspeople would say, it’s all about you, and if I can give back and help people, I’d really like to do that. I have a platform, so why not use it?”
Rising through the ranks in a male-dominated, testosterone-clogged world – “It suddenly become ‘trendy’ didn’t it, to have a female presenter or reporter; we were kind of seen as the token... That used to be the case at Sky, but absolutely not now” – Sarah has interviewed everyone from Usain Bolt to golfing legend Tiger Woods.
“I love the psychology of sport and what people have been through, and I think Tiger’s story, the personal issues and the numerous back injuries and surgeries, what he’s come back from to achieve success again [is remarkable],” she states.
As a sports journalist, Sarah weighs in on the subject of why more queer people aren’t ‘out’ in sport.
“It’s about the safety in your sport and how you feel… In women’s golf, there’s Mel Reid. She said, ‘I want to use my platform, I’m a visible athlete, this is who I am, I don’t want to hide it any more, I want to get involved and help.’”
“It’s a lot to do with your arena. In the Premier League, we’ve just seen with Marcus Rashford and racism, there is still a pocket [of fans] there trolling and [spouting] hate online.
"I don’t think they [closeted players] feel comfortable. Even though in so many different sports we’ve come along way, there’s still that missing link with top-flight football, with a very big name coming out.”
She optimistically concludes: “I don’t think we’re too far away.”
Read the full interview in the Attitude Summer issue, out now.