GAY, straight or otherwise, you won’t be treated differently - that is the defiant message Orange’s sporting stars sent out after the results of the Out on the Fields study were released yesterday.
Backed by the Australian Sports Commission, Victoria University and the Federation of Gay Games the nationwide survey - involving 2500 homosexual and heterosexual athletes, from all levels of sport, aged 15 years and up - revealed 85 per cent of gay athletes have experienced or witnessed homophobic abuse.
Half reported they have been the direct target of verbal threats, bullying or exclusion due to sexual orientation while homophobic jokes and casual comments such as “that’s so gay” were found to be commonplace.
While all heterosexual, Orange CYMS Group 10 premier league captain-coach Mick Sullivan, Centrals cricket star Dan Sandford and Orange Emus Chicks player-coach Amanda Ferguson echoed each other in saying in their experience homophobia is not an issue in Orange sport.
Being straight, the quartet could not comment on the pressures gay sports stars feel about coming out, but said anyone in Orange who did would be welcomed with a friendly environment.
“We have a couple of gay girls at Emus, and there are few across the Central West and I have never heard of any problems, at a local or representative level, on or off the field,” Ferguson said.
“I don’t know of any gay players in Group 10,” Sullivan said.
“There probably is some who haven’t come out, but even if they were to come out openly there wouldn’t be any prejudice. Definitely not at CYMS anyway, we are a very open club and I don’t see any reason why it would be a problem at any sporting club. Sexual orientation just doesn’t matter.”
“I don’t know of any openly gay cricketers around town, not that it’s anyone else’s business anyway,” Sandford said.
“If a cricketer in town was openly gay no one at Centrals or, I’m sure, any other club in Orange would treat them any differently. It just isn’t an issue.”