Australian football’s Pride Match 

Today is the AFL’s first ever pride match. I have shared a few posts regarding this but I want to share why this is so important. 
Australian football is a strange paradox – for a game that is played almost exclusively in one part of the globe it is able to transcend cultural barriers and ethnic divides and bring communities together. As an immigrant who has lived here for 14 years, I found it strange that almost every team was based in one city. Where I am used to city vs city or country vs country. This is more than suburb vs suburb it’s social class vs social class and who you “barrack/root” for defines you as an individual on the grand stage.
This is a game that has been a cornerstone of Melbourne culture since the Victorian Football League was established in 1896.
Australian Football is now played in at least 32 countries outside Australia and is recognised as one of the greatest games in the world. Its popularity shows no sign of fading. The Grand Final held at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground in September each year is one of the world’s biggest sporting events and is watched by millions on television.
But unfortunately things like Racism and Homophobia is yet to be eradicated within the AFL, with subtle forms of discrimination still evident in many top tier clubs.
But part of the change that has started to happen is the AFL has started changing itself (albeit slowly) to have more inclusion and recognize this is a game for more than the white Hetero upper/middle/lower class male. Building new cultures of respect and non-violence. 
This will still take some time. But with support groups like the CollingWood’s Pink Magpies, Essendon’s Purple Bombers (run by my friends Jason Tuazon McCheyne and Simon Ginsberg) along with St. Kilda and the Sydney Swans playing this first ever Pride Match, we who identify as part of the wider LGBT community (whether we love the game or not) need to recognize the attempt by the league to eliminate Homophobia and create a more diverse and inclusive sport for everyone.
I don’t barrack for either team myself but I’ll be cheering on one of them (maybe I’ll have have a game donut cheering on St. Kilda with my Auntie Pam), filling a seat in the stadium to show the rest of the world my support for the AFL’s attempt to go against the grain of a 100+ year old culture in an amazing city I now call home.

Published by mishsheppard

Michelle's powerful combination of self and community shines through the platform of radio which has helped raised the public profile and national dialogue of transgender, gender diverse and intersex issues on a national scale. Surprisingly nothing is off limits with Michelle who connects with her audience brilliantly; obviously through her humor and unapologetic blunt honesty. She is often labelled as an inspiring advocate and role model for youth and adults alike and hers is a powerful story to tell. We know that when a woman has the support of her community, especially her sisters, she is unstoppable. Michelle’s wider support from the women around her, LGBTI+ or ally alike, has helped develop her own unstoppable resilience and body positive confidence that she inspires others with. Now a sought-after public speaker Michelle is admired for her bold public representation of the Transgender community as works to break through the barriers of unconscious bias, cultural and structural issues to ensure equality of opportunity for all Australian work spaces. Winner of the ANZ Excellence in Business Award, ‘LGBTI Jobs’ a relatively new project, they pair LGBTI graduates and jobseekers to companies that embrace inclusion initiatives. “We’ve started a business that helps anybody who’s in the LGBTI Community. We go to companies and see what they are you doing. This isn’t just for me, this is for the entire community and we are going to make a massive change.” Michelle was recently celebrated alongside some truly amazing individuals from our community as part of the ‘The LOTL Power List 2016’ as someone who does everything in their power to make life that little bit better for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities: sometimes with blood, sweat and tears; and sometimes just by being themselves. Michelle is also a finalist for ‘MTV – LGBTI Broadcaster and Presenter’ in the Australian LGBTI Awards 2017. Awards Globe Awards 2016 - ANZ Excellence in Business Award The LOTL Power List 2016 (28/40) Finalist for ‘MTV – LGBTI Broadcaster and Presenter’ in the Australian LGBTI Awards 2017

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