Footy has secured a virtually undeniable part of Australia’s identity across its various codes and competitions, branching across various communities and walks of life.
However, a recent study has shown 80% of people surveyed in Australia believe gay people are only moderately accepted to completely unaccepted in sporting culture.
On Saturday, 13 August, the AFL will be holding a Pride Game to help break down social barriers and tackle homophobia. Round 21 of the 2016 competition will see the Sydney Swans take on the St Kilda Saints while Australia’s only LGBTI radio station, JOY 94.9, will be broadcasting live from Etihad Stadium and via the Community Radio Network. Hosted by JOY’s Chicks Talkin’ Footy program, the special behind the scenes broadcast will feature some of the country’s leading sportspeople, commentators and community leaders, dotted with match updates.
We asked Fiona Newton (pictured, on left with Susannah ‘Motty’ Mott and Danae Gibson) from Chicks Talkin’ Footy what we can expect:
How is the AFL taking a lead in the world of sporting culture with this Pride Game?
The Pride Game between St Kilda Football Club and the Sydney Swans is the first of its kind (for any sporting competition) in the world. In a recent study titled Out on the Fields, it was found that 82% of the LGBTIQ people surveyed had experienced homophobia while playing sport. That’s huge and an eye opener for the sporting community. By holding this Pride Game in the official AFL season, the AFL is making a statement that will hopefully change some of these statistics.
Can you tell us a bit more about the match and what to expect from the broadcast on JOY 94.9 and the Community Radio Network?
The match will have a rainbow theme. The St Kilda players will be wearing Rainbow numbers on their Guernsey and the Sydney players will be wearing rainbow socks. The 50 metre lines will be painted rainbow colours and the goal umpires will be waving rainbow flags.
The Chicks Talking Footy team from JOY 94.9 is proud to be hosting the broadcast from 6pm (AEST) for the Pride Game. Over the broadcast, we will be interviewing players, AFL management, journalists and many people from the broader footy community and discussing the value of the Pride Game and our favourite topic…footy!
As footy fans and members of LGBTIQ communities, what are the pertinent conversations or issues you feel haven’t been properly raised in the world of Australian sport that initiatives such as this do?
Initiatives such as the Pride Game bring awareness to the sporting community that combating homophobia in sport in an important thing to do. Traditionally, a lot of the LGBTIQ community haven’t felt welcome in the sporting and AFL communities and this helps provide a platform where we can feel safer. Everyone should feel safe at the footy and events such as the Pride Game help to provide that space and start a healthy conversation. The Pride Game is a wonderful opportunity to educate us all on how footy and other sports can be leaders of change in our communities.
Is there general advice you would give footy fans wanting to contribute to a more inclusive and accepting sports culture?
To all the footy fans that want to contribute to a more inclusive sports culture we would say: be mindful of the words you say when getting passionate about the footy! Words like faggot, poofta, gaybo, etc. might just sound like a joke to you but they are really hurtful and speak volumes to the LGBTIQ community that they can’t be open and be themselves. Call it out when you hear it. Be ready to support any players, coaches or members of the footy community that do come out because it will be a tough road for the pioneers who do choose to be the first!
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