The Worlds of Football Conference at Victoria University this week features three internationally recognised speakers with expertise in homophobia in sport who will be available to talk to the media on Tuesday.
Dr Jayne Caudwell from the University of Brighton, UK will talk about efforts to combat homophobia in professional men's soccer in Britain. Her focus will be the Justin Campaign, named after the only professional player in the UK Premier League to come out as gay, Justin Fashanu, who died tragically in 1998.
"Within men's professional football, Fashanu's life and death remain silent discourses," says Dr Caudwell. "The Justin Campaign seeks to transform this silent culture through a combination of art, education, events and football."
Dr Eric Anderson, from the University of Bath, UK has a different perspective. He says that his research in the UK and the US shows it is increasingly unacceptable for male youth to maintain homophobia, opening the door for many young athletes to come out.
"Rather than being a cause of social marginalisation, being openly gay is often used as a bonding mechanism with heterosexual teammates," Dr Anderson says. "This has even led heterosexual men to be able to kiss one another without being stigmatised."
Dr Caroline Symons, from Victoria University, Melbourne, who led the first major study of homophobia in sport in Australia this year, Come Out to Play, says these two differing views from leading researchers in Britain, offer some hope for breaking down the silence on homophobia in sport in Australia.
"Coaches, officials and athletes themselves are afraid to discuss sexuality issues because of the taboos in Australian sport about talking openly about different sexualities," she says. "But times are changing, and that may be a cue for the AFL and other sporting codes in Australia to begin addressing homophobia."
When: Tuesday, September 28, 2009
Where: Level 11, City Flinders Campus, 300 Flinders St Melbourne
Media inquiries: Jim Buckell, A/Senior Media Officer
Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 4243; mobile: 0400 465 459; email: [email protected]