Mitcham at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
(Pic Philip Myers)
Gay Olympic diving champion Matthew Mitcham has urged gay Australian footballers to be open about their sexuality.
“If their environment allows them to feel comfortable enough to come out, I see absolutely no reason why not,” said Mitcham.
“It’s a part of me that I love and enjoy and I like being known as gay. I see it as something positive, so it’s just another positive thing to be known as,” the Australian swimmer added.
Mitcham made the comments in an interview with the Herald Sun in the wake of the controversial May article by Australian Rules Football star Jason Akermanis in which he told players to stay in the closet.
Akermanis was penalised by his club, the Western Bulldogs, for the article.
“Even his own football club said they don’t hold the same opinion as him. He has come out and said a couple of things and people are now saying, ‘What are you doing?’ People are deciding to ignore him,” commented Mitcham.
“All the footy codes have been doing so much work to stamp out homophobia in their sports, and I think it’s so brilliant and such a proactive thing on their part.”