Even as more members of the NFL come forward in support of the gay community, the Australian Football League is taking steps to address homophobia in the bleachers and locker rooms Down Under: The AFL is considering a special gay-pride exhibition game next season to help make the sport more inclusive.
“A pride game is one of the options we’re looking at. If we get behind something we genuinely believe in and if it’s something that we think we can help raise awareness and shift attitudes then we would support it,” League boss Andrew Demetriou said. “We would consult with experts in this matter and get the best advice to see how we can address this issue properly like we did with illicit drugs. I want to make sure then if we do go down this track we do it properly.”
Just last week, a PSA addressing homophobia was broadcast on the big screen before two major finals. Openly gay player Jason Ball had launched a Change.org petition urging the AFL to screen the ads, commissioned by the social-justice group No to Homophobia, that garnered more than 26,000 signers. “The fact that the AFL are considering a pride round, amongst a host of other options, is amazing news,” said Ball (right). “Nothing would send a better message to gay players and fans that they’re welcome and included in this game we love.”
Australian-rules football, which is neither American football nor what we Yanks call soccer, hasn’t had a reputation for being very gay friendly: Just last month, a player got a fine and a slap on the wrist for calling an opponent a “fucking homo.”
Maybe they would’ve punished him harder if he’d written it on his eye block.
Queerty readers in Australia: How impactful is Ball’s coming out and the screening of No on Homophobia’s public-service announcement? Drop us a line in the comments.
Photo: Jason Ball/Twitter