Aussie Rules football player Jason Ball has done more than just come out publicly in recent days – he’s become an overnight activist who is fighting homophobia in his sport.
Ball says the petition was ‘terrifying’ for him to write but he’s doing so to try and change the culture of the sport.
‘It’s a blokey culture and gay slurs are a regular part of games and training,’ he writes on the petition. ‘It’s a horrible reminder that you’re different, reviled and unwelcome. It felt like the footy club would be the one place I could never come out. Whether it’s intentional or not, the reality is that the culture of the AFL is hostile to fans and players like me.’
The league recently announced its support of the No to Homophobia campaign which he called ‘a great first step’ but adds that the AFL needs to do more.
‘They should show the No to Homophobia ad on the big screen at the Grand Final,’ writes Ball. ‘It’d show to the hundreds of thousands of people watching that this time their commitment is real.’
‘I think the players are ready for change,’ he adds. ‘The clubs are ready for change. The supporters are ready for change. We just need the AFL to lead and help shift the sporting culture so that players and fans like me can openly be who we are without fear.’