While AFL footballer Jason Akermanis wrote a piece for Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper last week advising gay sports people considering coming out to “forget it”, new figures from our Gay Games contingent tell a different story ­— there are 339 proud GLBT sportspeople registered from Australia to attend the Gay Games at Cologne in July, 203 of them from NSW. It is the largest contingent ever to travel from Australia to an international gay event.
“It’s huge, seeing as in Chicago four years ago we only had 270 from Australia. There are many from NSW, and a good number from Melbourne too. It should be very impressive,” Team Sydney president Geoffrey Radford told Sydney Star Observer.
“Registrations don’t close until May 31, and they’re still coming in — we’re still getting additional numbers.”
Participants and well-wishers are invited to Team Sydney’s farewell on June 19 at the German Goethe Institute in Woollahra, where they will receive their official uniforms and can browse information at stalls by Gay Games Cologne and Lufthansa. Those unable to make it on the day can pick up their uniforms from Fairlab at Dowling St in Woolloomooloo.
With Australia’s Cologne contingent standing alongside this week’s cover star Daniel Kowalski as openly gay sporting role models, Team Sydney sports council secretary Wally Salinger said he was disappointed to read Akermanis’ recent opinion piece.
“I think sport is a great way of breaking down barriers and differences. Gay teenage suicide is such a big issue, and if mainstream sport can be some sort of vehicle for people to accept themselves and feel good about themselves, that would be a great thing. But Akermanis is saying ‘don’t even go down that path, because it’ll only be negative for you’. It’s a real shame.”

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