Sydney doesn’t spring to mind when we talk of renowned Pride festivals. Mardi Gras is the homegrown version, celebrating, protesting, challenging, promoting all that is wonderful in our community.

The very title of a Pride festival generates a feeling of polishing one’s nails on skin-tight, high-class labels adorning Adonis’ chest.

Pride is associated with Amsterdam, San Francisco, Cologne and, in smaller versions, many other northern hemisphere cities.

Out of the marijuana cloud of Amsterdam rises a freedom to be within an accepting society. Cologne attracts 1,000,000 people to the heart of the Rhineland, once the industrial centre of Germany. From the San
Francisco fog comes the challenge to all that is conservative in the Americas: a call for tolerance, love, familial, workplace and legal recognition and understanding.

Yet Sydney, the southern belle, can be proud — very proud — of its sports clubs. As individual as flavours on an international cheese platter, these clubs fight their own day-to-day battles for existence, acceptance, and access to healthy activities for gays and lesbians.

Our close links with the Asia-Pacific see a ready flow of people in and out of our clubs, venues and events. Some clubs cater almost exclusively for particular population sub-groups, be they ethnic, gender, or body-type specific.

Clubs with a strong social focus combine their weekly activities with social events. As it is never too late in life to take up a sport, most clubs have beginner programs or ‘Learn To …’ events on a regular basis. These provide unique lifestyle opportunities and the basis for forming new friendships.

Parallel to this, some sports club members excel in their sport at local, interstate, age group or team events. Runners, swimmers, tennis players, volleyballers, bowlers (lawn and tenpin) dragon boat crews, rowers, surf lifesavers and cyclists perform at the highest levels. Out in front and proud.

Two recent international and two local arrivals into Team Sydney sports clubs have remarked on how amazing, positive and welcoming Sydneysiders have been when they first turned up for a training or social game. A
San Franciscan and a New Yorker both said it was the sports club that provided their first friends, social circle, and healthy activity. One enjoyed his time so much he wanted to return permanently.

So glance down at your nails, Sydneysider, blithely turn the hand over. Now raise it and polish it on your skin-tight designer label. Take a moment to be proud.

Get out to play: www.teamsydney.org.au

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