‘Only A Matter Of Time’: Dale Thomas Talks Sexuality In AFL
During a chat with a handful of the celebs in camp, Dale ‘Daisy’ Thomas spoke about the lack of LGBTQ+ players in AFL.
When asked by the newest member of the camp, Cosentino, about LGBTQ+ players in professional sports -- especially footy clubs -- Dale admitted it was “a shame” that it was still very uncommon for men.
After Cosentino described footy clubs as being “a pretty homosexual environment,” due to the showering together, locker room banter and physical contact with men, the former Carlton player admitted coming out could be awkward due to these very reasons.
“I think a lot of it would be fear of saying, ‘Hey yeah I’m gay’, and then you go and shower with them and just uneducated people or younger kids going, ‘Oh is he looking at me’,” Dale said to his campmates.
“I don’t think it would be one bit of an issue,” he added.
While Dale seemed totally open to LGBTQ+ players in professional sports, he also admitted that there has yet to be an out gay AFL player. This is not to say that they don’t exist, former ‘I’m A Celebrity’ star Joel Creasey detailed his brief dalliance with a Sydney Swans player.
Joel also spoke to Barry Hall during their time in the jungle, with Barry echoing a lot of what Dale was saying. “Honestly, the players that I know wouldn’t care. It’s not an issue,” Barry told Joel back in 2015.
In May of 2019, former Newcastle Jets player Andy Brennan, who now plays for Green Gully, became the first openly gay Australian male footballer.
Unfortunately, despite what the players may think, homophobia is all too common in the Australian sporting arena.
In 2017 a VicHealth report showed 50 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents didn’t see AFL matches as “a safe or welcoming environment” with three out of five who had attended AFL matches saying they witnessed homophobia or transphobia in the stands.
In a report detailing homophobia and transphobia in Australian sport, co-founder of Pride 2 Play Dr Ryan Storr revealed, “almost 50 percent of non-LGBT+ and almost 75 percent of LGBT+ respondents had witnessed homophobia in their sport at some time or another.”
Still, Dale was optimistic about the future of sport and its acceptance of LGBTQ+ players, hoping his daughter Matilda could grow up and not see it as issue.
“I can’t wait for Tilly to grow up in a society where it’s like girls-girls, boys-girls, whatever. Love is love,” he said.
“It’s only a matter of time before someone is brave enough to put their hand up and come out and say, ‘Yeah this is me, this is all of me’.
“When it does happen, I certainly hope that there’s very minimal backlash,” Dale continued. “Then more people, if they are sitting in a similar predicament will be able to then have the confidence to come out and say yep, me too.
“The first person who does it is going to be one: a pioneer and two: will get paid an absolute packet,” he said.
While male players have yet to come out, Dale pointed out that the AFLW is a very different story. “So many of them are just openly like, ‘Yep, this is my partner, this is how it is’, and there’s zero backlash… maybe from a few of the older people who have no idea,” he added.
“In five years time I guarantee it, it’ll be like blokes taking blokes to the Brownlows and that’ll not even raise an eyebrow.”