BE PROUD TO PLAY
Many LBGTIQ people in Australia lead safe, healthy, active and socially engaged lives; however, they can also experience marginalisation, stigma, discrimination and social exclusion. This can lead to negative health and wellbeing outcomes. LGBTIQ people face particular challenges arising from homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism and this can impact on their involvement in the community and access and use of services.
Genuine engagement means listening to understand. Through active listening, we will better understand the community and stakeholders we wish to engage; we will be able to get a handle on their motivations; know what makes them tick; grasp what they recognise as challenges and opportunities; and learn how to effectively engage with them.
My name is Dimitri Petrakis and I am an openly gay man who plays football for the Bentleigh Demons Football Netball Club. I came out to my club when I was 19 and my experience as an openly gay footballer has for the most part been extremely positive with only a few issues in the last few years. The most daunting part of the whole experience was thinking about how the other guys in my team would react. Would they want me to stop playing because it made them uncomfortable? Would I have to give up the game I love all together? These were some very real thoughts that went through my mind but fortunately for me I am part of a terrific footy club that is fully inclusive of everyone and very supportive. As I mentioned there have been some dark moments with spectators and players yelling abuse aimed at my sexuality but that was very early on and there have been no incidents since the SFNL took action and bought in great initiatives such as the Pride Cup. The Pride Cup is a great way to not only educate people but also make the LGBT+ community feel more supported in sports and will go a long way in encouraging future generations to not hide who they are and to be themselves.
I came out when I was 18, I’m 26 now, I have gone through a journey with that whole experience. Sport was always something that I have done my whole life and I guess having those two (aspects) intertwined was really important to me and sport, and especially footy, has given me actually a safe space to sort of be accepted in and go through that journey. You never really stop sharing that part of yourself with people that you meet. Every new person that you meet, you share that story of yourself. They assume you might have a partner, it might be a boyfriend or a male, and when that’s not the case you sort of come out all over again. It was almost like we were just two football players playing footy, and that is what I loved about it, everything else didn’t really matter. You go out on that field, you are teammates, that’s it, you support each other out there so I really loved that aspect, It’s the same off the field, it’s that community vibe and, you know, that’s sort of what’s made us feel really comfortable and everyone’s been supportive, we haven’t really felt any different, which has just been brilliant.
When I heard that Bentleigh actually gets to do the Pride Round, I didn’t think that I would have such a big reaction within myself but I actually did. I got really proud and a little bit emotional as well when it got shared with me because it is close to home, and we don’t necessarily always get these opportunities to be a part of something like that.
Headlines & Stories
PROUD TO BE IN PRIDE ROUND
By Sarah Radlow, July 03 2019
Bentleigh Football Netball Club is a sporting association with a rich, long history and a deep love for its community. Bentleigh will be participating in the Southern Football Netball League pride round cup for the first time on July 13 this year.
BENTLEIGH PRIDE SUPPORTERS
Healthy People, Healthy Communities
We have been providing health and social services to the local area for more than 40 years, with services including; Counselling, Dental, Diet and Nutrition, Gambler’s Help, Health Promotion, Hydrotherapy, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Adult Speech Pathology, Children's Speech Pathology, Community Transport, Youth Support, Diabetes Education, VicRoads' Safe Driving Program, Social Groups and Activities and NDIS services