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.