Childhood influences mould our beings for life. Positive experiences in sport mould us and the society in which we live. The reverse applies when young people’s formative years are traumatic, uncertain or abusive.

Women, such as Michelle Ferris, World Champion, Olympic and World Masters Games medallist, who declare their sexuality, are most often treated well by their locker room peers. Females tend to be accepted and respected for their performance as equals regardless of their sexuality, according to Canadian researcher Guyliane Demers.

Males are generally terrified of the consequences of coming out: rejection by coaches, negativity by team mates, fear of failure being seen as failure because I’m gay, not because of my performance. The contradiction is that to be one of the boys is by definition to be homophobic. Some young gay athletes react violently to gays and lesbians in an attempt to be part of the pack, according to sports sociologist T.J. Curry.

Matthew Mitcham will represent Australia in platform diving, having just scored four perfect 10s in the trials in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Twenty-year-old Mitcham retired as a teenager suffering depression and emotional burn-out, it was revealed this week in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Negative energy impacts on us all and affects daily life. It was the support of his partner Lachlan, coaching staff and mentors who have worked the miraculous turn-around in this Beijing medal hopeful.

The type of people we become is based on the choices we make. In any situation we have two -“ a right one and a wrong one. We know which is which, and consequences of our choices determine the pathway our lives will eventually follow.

Children who experience negative sporting experiences can blame poor quality or Old School teachers who punish rather than encourage. Game experiences introduced at a young age may cause irreparable psychological or physical injury. Terminology such as danger or too hard can confirm a person’s lack of belief in themselves, the exact opposite of what quality sporting experience should develop. Physical and psychological effects may be immeasurable, harmful, habit-forming, unacceptable in society, and even illegal. Quality sporting friendships often form lifelong bonds based on a common interest.

If young athletes are exposed conscientiously to a positive sports reality they mature feeling positive, safe, appreciated, loved and valued. These values form protective armour when one makes choices badly in later life.

Escape the psychological warfare, damaging influences, drugs, the wrong crowd, negative relationship experiences, pressure from work, the stress of financial management or even your home life by joining one of Team Sydney’s member sports teams.

You are always welcome in gay and lesbian sport:

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