A NEW movement aiming to give young LGBTI people the courage to be proud and open about their sexuality from a younger age was recently launched in Victoria.

Gay? That’s OK will work towards creating a more accepting environment for LGBTI youth, particularly for those living in rural areas with little support.

[showads ad=MREC]The campaign’s co-founder Lachlan Beaton believes education in these areas is one of the key routes to acceptance.

“We would love to do work in country Victoria, or even rural NSW, because that’s where it’s really needed, and it would be an enormous step forward,” he told the Star Observer.

“But we need to educate people who aren’t gay, and aren’t in support of things like same-sex marriage… it’s not their fault they feel that way, it’s just that they’re not educated on it.”

Beaton also said role models play an important part in helping young LGBTI people to come to terms with their sexuality.

“There aren’t enough same-sex attracted role models in society, and kids always look for a role model,” he said.

“If you want to be a footballer, you look up to a footballer.

“I want to provide not just me as a role model, but everyone carrying the message.”

This weekend the University Blacks Football Club will wear rainbow jumpers during their last game of the season, as part of Gay? That’s OK’s first event.

Among the attendees will be the Victorian Equality Minister Martin Foley and Victoria’s recently-appointed Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Rowena Allen.

“I grew up four hours outside of Melbourne, and really wanted to try and do something that would’ve helped me when I was younger,” Beaton said.

In July, Beaton — a former Aussie Rules football player — uploaded a viral YouTube video that saw him sharing his own personal journey and the torment he felt while hiding his sexuality from those around him.

“It was kind of after the video that I had an enormous amount of responses and emails,” he said.

“Not just in Australia but from around the world. People are struggling with their sexuality because they feel they won’t be accepted.

“I thought that society was moving forward, but people still struggle.”

Beaton believes the upcoming football game will send an important message.

“Seeing a footballer player in a stereotypically masculine area show acceptance will help kids feel more comfortable with themselves,” he said.

Beaton added that the support he has received since he posted his video has been heartening.

“I’ve underestimated the goodwill that exists in society, in relation to this, and we need to harness it,” he said.

“People who are willing to help out causes like this just need to be asked.”

The University Blacks Football Club’s game will be held at The University of Melbourne on Saturday, August 29

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