CJ de Mooi, star of BBC 2′s Eggheads, has revealed that he was banned from presenting prizes to the winners of the British Chess Championship because he was wearing a Stonewall ‘Some people are gay. Get over it’ T-shirt.
De Mooi, the current president of the English Chess Federation had spent the day in Sheffield at the championship wearing the pro-gay equality T-shirt.
“At this morning’s prize giving ceremony of the Darwin Strategic British Chess Championships 2011 an arbiter approached me saying she had ‘personal reservations’ about me wearing a Stonewall t-shirt when presenting prizes to juniors. It was apparently inappropriate for me to wear something mentioning ‘sexuality’ in such an environment,” De Mooi said in a statement posted online.
“I did not consider this an issue as I had worn it the previous day in the playing hall and no objections were raised. I am fully CRB checked and was registering my public support of a charity.”
De Mooi gave organisers the decision for him to allow him to either wear the T-shirt and present all the prizes or none. The organisers decided it would be none.
Laura Doughty, deputy chief executive of Stonewall UK, told the Guardian website: “We think our T-shirts are lovely and don’t see why anyone would object to anyone wearing one, least of all chess players.”
On Twitter, De Mooi posted: “I’ve offered my resignation to the ECF [English Chess Federation] and I think I’ll give up and go to sleep too.”
Laura Barnes, the official referred to has denied that De Mooi was banned from wearing the T-shirt. She claims in a statement that she was “worried that children who had come for chess may be exploited in photo opportunities for a different issue/charity.” She also wrote that De Mooi’s T-shirt might not be considered as “smart-casual” as dictated by the event’s dress code.