#PrideGame and the need for explicit statements of acceptance

St. Kilda (Saints) got THUMPED on the weekend 😡😡😡😡. It was by the Sydney Swans, so I guess it’s OK. Swans aren’t too bad. Hey Swans fans 😀.

So, apart from being ANOTHER humiliating defeat for the Saints *sigh*, it was a special round – a Pride Round – an effort by the AFL to proclaim that everyone – including LGBTQ+ fans are welcome to play and watch the game.

This was a long time coming. In 2012, Jason Ball – a former footballer of the Yarra Valley and now Greens candidate – came out as gay. This revelation has sparked discussion on whether LGBTQ+ athletes in general, and AFL players and fans in particular were able to be included in the game and be out about who they are.

The AFL hasn’t escaped controversy when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion. In2010 ex – Brisbane Lions and former Western Bulldogs player, Jason Akermanis caused outrage when he said that the AFL “wasn’t ready” for an out gay footbalker and that they should remain in the closet and that other players may feel “uncomfortable” if they knew one of their players were gay. Because of that and other controversies, I can understand why the AFL has different rounds, such as “Pride Round” and “Indigenous Rounds”. I do think it’s a good idea for major sports codes and other significant cultural events to explicitly state that discrimination in ANY form will not be tolerated. I think it’s good for companies, sports codes, etc, to explicitly state whether for not members of the LGBTQ+ community are welcome. The reason why I say that is because a lack of discussion can automatically be interpreted as members of the LGBTQ+ not welcome or, they should shut up about it. And it is often only a matter of time when the truth comes out (no pun intended), or people essentially live a lie and have that eat at them. For younger people who are struggling with their sexuality, silence can exacerbate feelings of shame and the idea that if, heaven forbid, they are found out about, they will lose much of what they hold dear – family, friends, career, etc.

 

I’ll provide a rather personal example. Before the SCOTUS ruling on same – sex marriage across all 50 States last year,  I admit, I was very, very careful about what I posted here in fear of backlash. Seeing a number of my friends add the rainbow flag filter on their profile picture, it was confirmation for me that whatever I posted here, the likelihood of personal ramifications was minimal. After the Orlando shooting, memes assuring that straight people stand besidectge LGBTQ+ community was also comforting.

I NEED to be TOLD that I’m welcome for who I am. I need to be assured thatmy world won’t collapse if I came out to someone. I need to know that there are people I can be myself around. I daresay that LGBTQ+ athletes need the same from their codes. That’s why the Pride Round I believe, was and is needed.

 

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Special Pride AFL Game?

I heard last night that AFL’s St. Kilda Football Club (a.k.a. the Saints), have put in a request to have a “Gay Pride” round when they play against Sydney Swans. Melbourne’s The Age the St. Kilda Football Club had lobbied league bosses to play the round to stand for equality and fight against homophobia. This was inspired by Jason Ball, the first openly gay footballer. His team, the Yarra Glen. have played such games, where they give out a rainbow coloured trophy, for the past two years.

When I first heard about this on 2GB last night, to be honest, I was underwhelmed. Usually when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, I’m usually choking back tears until they roll down my cheeks. But last night, nothing. Well, nothing but maybe a bit of scepticism. Look, I’ve argued before that because of the AFL’s national reputation and how it’s a cultural phenomenon in Australia, that players and codes standing up for social issues like racism and Aboriginal recognition (e.g. the “Reconciliation Round”), plus it’s condemnation of violence against women is understandable. But such a divisive issue such as gay marriage? The caller who bought this to the attention to Andrew Bolt and Steve Price on 2GB last night who raised the topic and said that he didn’t need “education” or be “lectured to” at an AFL game.

Here is where I guess I worry. I worry that these pushes of such strong political issues, only alienates people. I fear that people, out of being so fatigued, will eventually turn a blind eye to LGBTQ+ issues (if they haven’t already). I fear that same – sex marriage opponents (some of them anyway), will finally spit it. And when all hell has broken loose, the people who are just fatigued by the whole same – sex marriage debate, even if they aren’t necessarily opponents, will give up the fight to combat issues facing the LGBTQ+ community such as suicide, bullying, harassment, being kicked out of home (for young people), etc.

All I’m saying is, give people breathing space. For platforms like AFL or NRL, don’t alienate supporters. Just back off and give people a chance to enjoy the game without any politics or sociology being thrown around. I mean, football is usually on Friday night or the weekend anyway. Isn’t that for a reason?

I’d be falling over if I saw football players having a purple, grey white and black trophy.

What do you think of St. Kilda’s decision next year? Too far or do you agree with it?

Ian Thorpe ‘Comes Out’ and Why It’s Still Hard To Come Out

Spoiler alert: Tonight (in Australia), a Michael Parkinson interview with former gold medallist Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe will be televised at 6PM. And, according to blogger/ columnist Andrew Bolt, Thorpe admits that he is gay, despite denying it in the past.

Bolt goes on to say that it shouldn’t be an issue. But for thousands of people who are anything other than cisgender and straight ( including myself as an asexual), it’s still hard to not identify as straight. In fact, an incident in the AFL where a player was called the P word, made Thorpe even more reluctant to come out.

i have said before that I get why people are asking what the big deal is and have also argued strongly that, whether we like to admit it or not, homophobia/ bi phobia and Trans phobia are still common. The asexual community still deals with ridicule, invisibility, and at worst, violence. I do applaud Bolt’s attitude though. It would be nice if it was actually the case. It’s just not the reality… dare I say it… yet.

i would like for both the freedom to both come out to everyone without issue and also to not feel the need to come out. I would love for it to not bring uncertainty and fear for people who want to come out. I just honestly think we’re not there yet.