Brothers Lachlan and Charles Beaton want gay footballers to be accepted in a locker room just like their straight teammates. So they’re doing something about it.
Lachlan can relate to the struggles young same-sex attracted Australians go through better than most. He is gay. He realised the fact at the age of 14 but chose to conceal his feelings from family and friends until he was 27-years-old for fear of being “disowned”.
“If there were role models for him to look up to, he probably would’ve come out when he was 19” – Charles Beaton on his brother Lachlan
“It was that period that was the most dangerous time in his life,” Charles says of his brother.
“He was just holding his secret and it gets to the point where the secret was so big he was just thinking he was going to lose everything. If there were role models for him to look up to, he probably would’ve come out when he was 19.”
The Beaton boys now understand the value of sporting clubs and the role models they produce in the push for social change.
“When you were growing up you wanted to be Nathan Buckley or Tony Liberatore – that’s all you wanted to be. You want to be a local sports star so whatever they say or do you live and die by,” Lachlan says.
“I think if you’re seeing sporting clubs or sportsmen at any level come out and send a message of acceptance, the ramifications are enormous.”
Find out more about the AFL Players’ #FOOTY4IDAHOT campaign, aimed at stamping out homophobia and transphobia in footy by watching the #FOOTY4IDAHOT video below
In conjunction with Victorian Amateur club University Blacks, the Beaton twins are using their self-established initiative, Gay? That’s OK!, as a vehicle for social change and to encourage society to promote “tolerance, acceptance and safe environments for same-sex attracted people”.
“The initiative is really designed to allow community leaders to stand up and shout from the rooftops their acceptance of gay people,” Lachlan says.
“From my understanding, the broader community absolutely accepts gay people but it’s not often they actually talk about gay people and the issues that they face.”
Uni Blacks will wear a specifically-designed rainbow coloured football jumper to showcase their support of the initiative and communicate their acceptance to the wider community.
Guest speakers at an event on Saturday will include Hawthorn premiership player and 1984 AFL Players’ MVP Award winner Russell Greene.
The Gay? That’s OK! football match between University Blacks and Collegians will be held at Melbourne University Oval on Saturday 29 August.