Hornets tell AFL: Get proud

A FOOTY team established to provide Perth LGBTQIA+ players with a safe place to enjoy their love of kicking around a Sherrin says they can’t wait for the AFL to adopt a “pride” round.

The Perth Hornets’ call follows a speech by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan at a lunch in Perth last month where he acknowledged there were gay AFL players who might have come out to teammates but hadn’t gone public to avoid the pressure of being first.

“What they are choosing is to not be the first person”, McLachlan said.

Hornets president Ian Odlum said statistically there were likely to be many gay players throughout the AFL.

“Being the ‘first’ could add considerable pressure to what is already a highly scrutinised job where everyone has their opinion on how well you are doing,” Mr Odlum said.

He said the Hornets, who formed in 2018, had collaborated with the West Coast Eagles to provide the “guard of honour” during the AFLW Pride game at Mineral Resources Park in 2022. The Eagles also provided guest coaches to some of their training sessions in the last couple of seasons and supported the club at fundraising events.

“We would welcome and be excited to collaborate with all WAFL and AFL Clubs in some way shape or form to build more acceptance and understanding around the LGBTQIA+ community and look forward to the day that the AFL Men’s competition have their own Pride round,” Mr Odlum said.

Mr McLachlan said going public hadn’t been an issue when the AFLW started in 2017, as many of the female players were able to open up in a group situation. 

“They had safety in numbers, there was no first,” Mr McLachlan said.

The AFLW introduced a pride round in 2021, with the support of a majority of players and fans.

The men’s competition has said a pride round had been discussed, but there were no short-term plans to add it to the season.

South Fremantle Football Club CEO Cameron Britt believes his club has created an environment “that all athletes, fans, staff, stakeholders in our football club feel that they are free and safe to express themselves however they wish. 

“I would like to think that we would be entirely supportive and encouraging of gay footballers, male or female to participate for South,” Mr Britt said.

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