In response to Melbourne United National Basketball League Club’s Isaac Humphries coming out publicly as gay, Pride in Sport, the national not-for-profit program that supports Australian sporting organisations and clubs in all aspects of LGBTQ inclusion, has issued the following statement.
Beau Newell, National Program Manager for Pride In Sport, said:
Pride in Sport applauds Melbourne United player Isaac Humphries for his courage and leadership in becoming the first openly gay male NBL player.
Humphries, an elite, professional male basketball player, is the one of only few elite male athletes in Australia to come out publicly as gay. In a statement issued by the NBL, he addressed his challenges in continuing to play the game not being his true self, but also the relief and joy he feels for doing so and being able to be a role model for younger athletes.
His bravery is to be congratulated and his journey shows the unfortunate reality that many athletes face when they are not able to enjoy the sport they love as their true selves.
Like Humphries, many athletes self-edit their existence in sport and expend a good deal of their daily energy on hiding their true self from others. His statement highlights the fear that many athletes have in coming out: that they will face potential discrimination, harassment, bullying from those within their sport and loss of professional opportunities.
We know that experiences of prejudice and harassment, and/or not being able to live openly can impact on the mental health of LGBTQ people. Research shows that traditional sports are often seen as unwelcome spaces for people of all ages with diverse sexualities or genders, with many athletes being completely or partially in the closet while playing sport due to fear of intolerance and discrimination from other players, coaches and officials.
This is a fear that is justified for many, but as many LGBTQ athletes who have recently come out over the past few years have demonstrated, such as Adelaide United FC player Josh Cavallo most recently, it has not been their experience.
It is the right of every player to be accepted and affirmed, on and off the sporting field, and we know that when this happens, mental and physical health outcomes dramatically improve.
Sport has an amazing opportunity to provide a safe and inclusive environment to all people, including people with diverse genders and sexualities. We congratulate Melbourne United and the NBL for providing a player with a welcoming, supportive, and safe professional environment where he can be himself.
We applaud Humphries for sharing his story and couldn’t be prouder of him.
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