Kamilla Rytter Juhl-Christinna Pedersen: Badminton champs first, gay couple later
It’s not easy to come out of the closet and in the world of sport, not many are willing to brave the implications and repercussions. Danish badminton doubles pair of Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen did so after being in a relationship for the last eight years.
Rytter Juhl said they didn’t declare it earlier because they wanted to be known for their badminton and not for the nature of their relationship off it.
“We also wanted to show that we wanted to be famous because of our badminton and we didn’t want to be know as only because of being a female couple. Now we have an Olympic medal so that was important to make clear we wanted to be famous for what we did on court and not for what we did outside,” said Rytter Juhl on the sidelines of a Premier Badminton League (PBL) promotional event in Dubai on Tuesday.
The duo won silver at the 2016 Rio Games and have also won medals in 2013, 2015 and 2017 BWF World Championships. They revealed their relationship status in their book titled, ‘The Unique Relationship’.
Pedersen said: “It was about waiting for the right time when we were ready to break the news and ready to take the few negative comments that will come. Hopefully, one day the negative comments will not come. We haven’t been hiding but we just kept our privacy and that is why we waited so long.”
At first they were nervous about how the fans and fellow players will react, but barring few hate message on social media, they have received a positive response from all quarters.
““We got a lot of positive messages from around the world, including from India, Malaysia, Indonesia and people are still supporting us. Okay, maybe some fans will say I don’t like the ladies doubles anymore but again they wouldn’t like us if were in a relationship with a man. Out of 100 messages one or two are negative,” Rytter Juhl said.
Both felt that in team sport it is a bit difficult to come out.
“In team sport it is very difficult but we are lucky that we are women. So it is easier for us and we have heard that for a male couple it would have been even more difficult,” said Rytter Juhl.
So what will be their message to others who face a similar dilemma as theirs about coming out?
“Our message is that just be yourself and it is easy to say but it is not easy when you are a young player and you want to be a champion in the sport. Again it is about waiting for the right time, and ready to take the news and ready to take the few negative comments that will come. Hopefully, one day the negative comments will not come,” said Pedersen.