Dive in with the Gay and Lesbian Underwater Group
First established in the 1990s, London’s Gay and Lesbian Underwater Group — GLUG — is a SCUBA diving club for the LGBT community, organising dive trips in the UK and around the world.
We caught up with Alan Kan, membership coordinator for the club, to find out if we had what it takes to dive deep with GLUG.
Why is there a need for a specific LGBTI underwater club — why not just join the existing clubs that are open to everyone?
A club is all about the members — as long as the members have a need to have a dive club for the LGBTI community, then we’re here to provide that.
As far as we know, we’re the only LGBTI underwater and diving club in the UK. There are similar clubs all around the world — Canada, Thailand, the US — which we keep close contact with, and have joint trips together. It’s a lot of fun, and it feels like we’re all family members.
I joined GLUG about eight years ago — at the time I was determined to find a new sport that was fun and that would help me meet new friends. Through GLUG I’ve met some wonderful, inclusive, and diverse people, and diving has become my passion.
For me, diving with GLUG was less intimidating than other commercial dive clubs, as well as more social and more supportive.
How many members does the club currently have?
We have about 50 members who actively join trips and come to socials. Most of our members are based in London.
We’re keen to attract new members.
What’s the gender mix?
We have slightly more women than men. A few of our members are trans.
Do you have to be LGBTI to be a member of the club?
Although the club is aimed at the LGBTI community, we have welcomed several enlightened allies who find diving with GLUG a refreshing change from regular SCUBA clubs.
The club is inclusive and open to all — all are welcome. We have some members who don’t dive — they like the socials and meeting friends.
Do you welcome people who are new to the sport?
Absolutely. We encourage new beginners, and have certified dive instructors in the club who gives advice and conduct training courses. Plus we organise introduction dive trips for beginners.
We also have members who haven’t been diving for a while and would like to get back to it, so we run refresher courses for them.
What are some of the biggest challenges in running the club?
Diving in general is a sport that isn’t growing much globally — it’s a challenge to attract new members. Especially in the UK, diving isn’t for everyone — it’s cold, and needs special training and equipment such as dry suits. We need to find ways to attract new blood into the club.
As a club, it can be difficult to balance the dive trips that we plan — everyone loves overseas trips, but they can be too expensive for some people, so we also need to plan a number of UK dive trips.
Also, we’re non-profit community club, so all committee members are volunteers. We love organising trips to benefit and serve our members, but it’s time consuming.
What sort of events do members take part in?
As well as the dive trips that we run, we have a social meeting every month in London.
In addition, we organise events like going to the major dive shows in London and Birmingham, and National Geographic talks and exhibitions related to diving and marine conservation.
What trips are you planning in 2018?
March: Warm up dives in Wraysbury
May: St Tropez and Malta
August: Plymouth trip
September: St. Abbs