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India Willoughby leads rugby club’s trans Pride campaign in joyful video

Exclusive: "You don't have to support trans rights, but just don't hate. Let people be and let them live their lives," Keighley Cougars' co-ownerKaue Garcia tells Attitude

By Dale Fox

India Willoughby holding a sign saying Respect standing next to a rugby player holding a sign saying Love is Love
India Willoughby stars in the Keighley Cougars' Pride video (Image: Keighley Cougars; Design: Attitude)

Rugby league club the Keighley Cougars have released a Pride video focusing on trans rights, featuring their patron, broadcaster India Willoughby.

The joyful video also includes appearances from team members and club staff wearing a limited-edition kit in transgender flag colours. It comes ahead of the club’s fifth annual Pride match, scheduled for 7 July at Cougar Park in the small West Yorkshire town of Keighley.

India Willoughby, Britain’s first transgender newsreader and a prominent LGBTQ+ rights advocate, was appointed as the club’s patron in April 2024. Willoughby said at the time she was “thrilled to represent this incredible club that is challenging societal norms.”

The almost 150-year-old club, founded in 1876, has gained attention recently for its progressive stance on LGBTQ+ issues. Notably, it is the only professional sports team outside of the US to have out LGBTQ+ owners, with married couple Ryan O’Neill and Kaue Garcia taking the helm in 2019.

“It’s easier to be kind than to be riddled with hate” – Keighley Cougars co-owner Kaue Garcia

Kaue Garcia and India Willoughby
“It’s easier to be kind than to be riddled with hate,” says Kaue Garcia (right), who stars in the video alongside Willoughby (Image: Keighley Cougars)

Co-owner Garcia told Attitude: “We are an inclusive club and feel a responsibility to put our arms around people who need support and face bullying. The trans community are being subjected to so much hate – from the government, media and influential people like JK Rowling.

“The video was made to express this in a way that is not agressive, but will make people smile, and hopefully make them think.  It’s easier to be kind than to be riddled with hate.”

On getting the team’s players on board to star in the video, Garcia said: “We had a meeting with the players before the season started.  We talked about LGBTQ+ issues with them, and particularly trans issues. We told them that this would likely put a target on all our backs, but that it was important to us and to the club.  The meeting was really positive, and the players gave us their backing.  The video was a part of that. I’m so proud of them for this.”

“You don’t have to support trans rights, but just don’t hate”

For their upcoming Pride event on 7 July, the team will wear the kit featured in the video. It’s already available to purchase on the Keighley Cougars’ website, with all proceeds donated to transgender youth charity Mermaids.

The release of this video and the upcoming Pride match are part of the wider initiative by the Keighley Cougars to use their platform to promote equality and challenge prejudice. As Garcia explains: “You don’t have to support trans rights, but just don’t hate. Let people be and let them live their lives.”