A player in the minor leagues of Australian Rules Football says he was verbally abused for being gay at four matches this season and almost quit the sport because of it. His boyfriend was present at one game and heard the abuse.
"When you're on the footy field you feel invincible with your teammates around you, but when this happens you feel alone," Dimitri Petrakis, 22, told the Herald Sun. "It's a shocking feeling. The first time it happened it stayed with me for about a week and I was contemplating not playing anymore. I wasn't really enjoying footy."
Petrakis said that his boyfriend Perry Scott was present at one game and heard the slurs. The player says that the couple have heard gay slurs while walking in Adelaide, Australia, but they don't bother him as much as when he hears them on the field.
"We (me and my boyfriend) walk down Chapel St at night time and there's cars with their windows down yelling, ‘faggots, pooftas' and stuff like that really aggressively. But the difference with footy is I love my footy and it's my passion and I never wanted those kind of comments said to me while I was doing what I love doing."
While his club has been supportive of him since he came out three years ago, he was upset that his comments to the Southern Football League about the onfield abuse were ignored. His coach, Paul Dimattini, said he "was pretty pissed off" when he heard the slurs and said his two daughters, 8 and 11, were so bothered by hearing the abuse that they didn't want to attend any more games.
His coach called Petrakis "quite courageous, ridiculously hard at the football, and super tough." Good for him to bring this abuse to light and shame on the league for not doing anything about it. Only when sports institutions have a zero policy for gay slurs will they ever stop.