It was the sort of comment that made World Cup winner Alex Blackwell reconsider her sporting career.
On Valentine’s Day 2012, the Australian Test cricketer received a piece of homophobic abuse that shattered her.
“It probably wasn’t meant for me, they might not have known the effect,” she said.
“But it made me think, is there a place for me in this sport, this sport which I love so much?” Blackwell said.
Blackwell is one of few Australian athletes to proudly identify herself as gay.
Recalling that experience ahead of international day against homophobia – IDAHO day – this Saturday, Blackwell said she was helped inadvertently by an unlikely source.
Well-loved actress and comedian Magda Szubanski chose that night to come out on television, which Blackwell said “came along just when I needed”.
Instead of turning away, she instead became an advocate for ridding sport of homophobia.
It’s been a landmark year for the cause, headlined by the country’s five biggest codes signing an anti-homophobia and inclusion framework.
The good news continued to this week, when one of the most macho sports of all – grid-iron – produced a first openly gay draftee; Michael Sam.
While the sporting community did manage to cough up some pockets of resistance – steps towards inclusion are being made.
Australian athletes now have the chance to share their experiences with homophobia in the hope it will allow people to tackle the issue with greater force.
The “Out on the Field” study will compare experiences from grassroots to professional sport, across codes and continents.
Powered by seven universities across four countries and sports marketing firm Repucom, the study has been championed by Bingham Cup organisers who hope to gain 5000 respondents.
Wallabies flanker David Pocock said gathering personal stories was key.
“Then we can begin challenging prejudice at all levels of sport, from when kids are starting out right up to professional levels,” he said.
Importantly, the campaign is backed by the Australian Sports Commission, who will act as police on the beat.
ASC spokesman Anthony Moore said following the signing of the anti-homophobia framework, the mass survey would allow the commission to track and report progress on the issue.
For Blackwell, who became one of the first athletes to fill out the survey on Friday, it’s easy to understand why it’s important.
“Everyone has the right to play sport, to feel safe and included,” she said.
The survey is available at www.outonthefields苏州纹眉网,.