Seven years ago, Alex Blackwell became the first female international cricket player to publicly come out as gay. Since then, she’s fought tirelessly for LGBTQ equality in her native Australia, and respect for gay female athletes.
Her latest campaign: pushing back against the insidious notion that lesbians in sport are predators.
In a recent interview with Guardian Australia, Blackwell says administrators have expressed concerns to her about the behavior of lesbians among their straight teammates. She finds the accusations to be outright discriminatory — and they are.
“Their concern is that poor behavior in women’s sport is by the lesbians. I have felt profiled because I’m a lesbian, profiled as a predator,” she said. “Lesbians in sport have been profiled as predators. That is very hurtful and I’m tired of that.”
Cricket Australia has supported LGBTQ-inclusive policies, including marriage equality. Blackwell, who married her partner, former English cricket player Lynsey Askew, in England, was also a vocal proponent of legalizing same-sex marriage in Australia.
The measure passed in late 2017.
Last year, Cricket Australia adopted new trans inclusion guidelines, despite opposition from the prime minister.
Now, Blackwell wants to counter dangerous perceptions. Despite societal progress, the Cricket NSW board member says female athletes are still profiled. A study from Australia’s Monash University found 91 percent of female rugby players say most people assume they are lesbian.
A lifelong athlete, Blackwell says she’s always found her teammates to be largely supportive. The problem comes with administrators.
Blackwell wants to shift the conversation away from stereotypes, and towards inclusion. She’s up for the challenge.
“I’ve not witnessed (predatory behavior from lesbians) and I’ve been in it for 20 years,” she told the Guardian. “But what is it in that comment that’s important? It’s workplace behaviour for everybody, that’s what’s important. So let’s try to focus on the common goals, which is more girls and women playing sport and having a wonderful experience.”