Speaking to AFL’s Travis Varcoe and Robert “Dipper” DiPierdomenico, both Abbie Chatfield and Jack Vidgen asked about the history of openly gay players in the code.
“I never suspected anyone or whatever, but no one from football,” Dipper said in response to if anyone from AFL had ever ‘come out’.
“I played football for 18 years and I’m sure there were some gay, homosexual people playing but no one really came out in our time saying, ‘this is who I am’ because of the fear of being degraded,” Dipper later elaborated in the Tok Tokkie.
Explaining that in the women’s leagues of several sports many players have come out, Travis admitted it was “sad” that no men had done the same at this time.
“I probably know about ten or 12 footy players - I would never say their name - that are gay but they wouldn’t come out,” Jack said.
In 2019 Andy Brennan became the first Australian professional male footballer to come out as gay while still playing, joining Ian Roberts who was rugby league’s first Aussie, and Australia’s first sportsman, to come out while still playing in 1995.
“It would be extremely daunting not knowing, are you going to lose your career? Are you going to lose your friends? Are you going to lose your colleagues? What are people going to think of you?” Jack said later in the Tok Tokkie. “It would be a really hard thing to go through in that industry.”
Abbie quizzed the AFL players on their thoughts as to why — with such a focus on mental health and support in the codes — players don’t feel as if they can come out.
While neither man felt like there would be an issue if a player was to come out, a recent report released by Monash University revealed “strong evidence” that discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community “remains common in sport and is harmful to this population” citing studies that found male athletes are ‘more likely than the general population to express homophobic attitudes.”
But both Travis and Dipper remained extremely open to the idea of more LGBTQ+ men in professional sport.
Earlier in the day Dipper had an extremely open conversation with Jack about his sexuality and the singer’s journey to coming out as a gay man.
Explaining that he “always knew” he was attracted to men, Jack admitted he would have felt more comfortable coming out had he not been in the public eye at such a young age.
When he finally came out, Jack told Dipper, “It was incredible, one of the most incredible feelings of my life. Just feeling… free.”
“Having… a guy that age just be interested in my relationships and asking about my love life without it being weird and it being seen as a strange thing is foreign to me,” Jack said later of his chat with Dipper.
“It’s sad that it’s foreign to me but it really… it was a beautiful moment because I haven’t really had that at all. It felt really special.”
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