More bravery needed to stamp out homophobia

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Andrew Purchas has long been vying to stamp out homophobia in sport and he says we need more David Pococks to spread the word.

Pocock grabbed headlines in 2015 for pulling up Waratahs backrower Jacques Potgieter over a homophobic slur, an act Purchas, a founder of gay Rugby team Sydney Convicts, says is beginning to be replicated at local levels.

“What Dave did was really brave. He obviously had no intention of it going viral as it did, He didn’t anticipate it could be picked up by refs microphone,” he said.

“It’s activity like that, whether it’s public or not, that really speaks volumes.

“I’ve been playing in a gay Rugby club for the past 10 years and we had instances where there’s been homophobic slurs on the sideline.

“(In) the majority of instances what matters most is other team members on the opponent’s side call their players to account.”

Purchas said unintentional homophobia could be more damaging than most realise.

“We can’t overestimate the impact of casual homophobia," he said.

“It’s very much like racism although with racism if you make a racist slur  often you’re aware of the person is of a certain race.

“With homophobia you’re not sure of someone’s sexuality, so you're really have no idea in terms of how it’s going to impact someone or not.

Pocock’s Brumbies teammate Matt Toomua is a Skins Ambassador for the Rainbow Laces round and emphasised the need for everyone to feel comfortable to be who they are, no matter the situation.

“There hasn’t been an athlete who’s felt comfortable enough to come out in the football codes so for that it’s something that we need to address,” he said.

“For me it’s about normalising it in a sense and just realising that guys can be who they are and be comfortable in their own skin.”

All Australian sporting organisations have been invited to take part in the Pride of Sport Index, to test the inclusivity of their bodies when it comes to LGBT athletes.

Australian sporting teams across all four football codes and netball will be donning rainbow laces as part of Skins’ Knot Me anti-homophobia round this weekend.