Former Ruby player Ian Roberts said it best when he said “you can’t put brains in a statue” in response to AFL player and news paper columnist Jason Akermanis comments earlier this week that Gay AFL players should stay in the closet.
HOMOSEXUAL hunting in AFL circles should stop.
Two former AFL players are rumoured to have been offered $150,000 to be the first to publicly come out as gay.
And rumours in the past two weeks suggested a Victorian-based player was ready to out himself – rumours that have been baseless.
If a player wants to out himself, then I say good luck.
But I believe the world of AFL footy is not ready for it. To come out is unnecessary for a lot of reasons.
Imagine the publicity associated with a current player admitting he’s gay. It would be international news and could break the fabric of a club.
Football clubs are very different environments. Locker room nudity is an everyday part of our lives and unlike any other work place.I believe it would cause discomfort in that environment should someone declare himself gay.
I have played with a gay player in the twos for Mayne in Queensland in the mid-1990s who was happy to admit his sexual persuasion. He was a great guy who played his heart out and was respected by everyone in the team.
The only time I noticed a difference was when I was showering with 10 other players after a good win and I turned around to see all 10 heading out in a second with their towels. Sure enough, our gay teammate had wandered in.
For some reason I felt uncomfortable, so I left. I am sure most players these days would do the same.
I know he wasn’t about to try and convert me to his way of thinking, but I was uncomfortable all the same.
What I should have done was to sit down and talk with him in an attempt to understand his life.
Away from football, I’m all for any initiative that helps lessen public bias against homosexuality, such as IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia), which was run on Monday.
If you thought suicide was bad among young men, it is four to six times higher for people who are attracted to the same sex. It clearly can be a difficult and lonely road, one that hopefully can be made easier.
Now try being the first AFL player to come out. That is too big a burden for any player.
I know there are many who think a public AFL outing would break down homophobia, but they don’t live in football clubs. It’s not the job of the minority to make the environment safer. Not now, anyway.
We have made massive steps in other areas of society and in time I hope the environment changes to a degree where coming out isn’t a big deal.
In women’s sport – tennis, golf, cricket, hockey and soccer – being gay carries no stigma. But men’s sport is well behind in acceptance.
Take American-born British national John Amaechi, who became the first NBA professional to come out when he published his book Man in the Middle.
Amaechi claims he has spoken to a dozen professional players who are gay. He says none have asked him if they should come out, but if they did he would tell them not to.
After all he is not a gay rights activist.
In an athletic environment the rules are different from the cultural rules for men.
Never in a mall will you see two straight men hugging, a— slapping and jumping around like kids after an important goal.
Locker room nudity and homoerotic activities are normal inside footy clubs.
Young people from the ages 15-24 are the main participants in organised sport in Victoria. Some of them must be gay and I hope they thoroughly enjoy their sporting lives without having to experience any form of prejudice.
But if they are thinking of telling the world, my advice would be forget it.