Two members of a British rugby team marked a recent victory on the pitch with a kiss to highlight homophobia in sport.
It was a direct response to Australian rugby player Israel Folau, after his recent comments about LGBTQ+ people. In April 2018, he said gay people would go to hell if they did not “repent of their sins and turn to God.” His comments caused international outrage in the LGBTQ+ community.
But these were no ordinary rugby players. They were members of the Kings Cross Steelers, one of the biggest gay rugby clubs in the UK. One of the couple is Simon Dunn, the first openly gay man to be a part of Australia’s bobsled team. The other is his partner Felix.
In March this year, Simon Davis from the Steelers told Means Happy: “Rugby has always been about respect (on and off the pitch) and you can see that when you go to a game.”
Victory kiss. pic.twitter.com/REvhoUN2bX
— Simon Dunn (@BySimonDunn) April 22, 2018
Simon shared the photo on Twitter, later re-tweeting to tag Israel, making sure his message reached its intended subject.
— Simon Dunn (@BySimonDunn) April 23, 2018
After sharing the photo, Simon explained to Gay Times his reasons behind addressing the controversy around Israel’s comments.
“Unfortunately the sporting world is still a place where kissing my partner after our team’s victory is still seen as an act of defiance or rebellion,” he told the magazine.
“It’s an environment where someone’s homophobic comments can be defended as ‘just his opinion.'”
“I’ve devoted my life to sport, and as an out and proud athlete I’ll continue to do what is natural for me, and hopefully break down stereotypes in the process.”
What else can be done to stamp out homophobia in sport?
In the UK, smaller sporting clubs are making major efforts to stamp out homophobia in sport.
Photo credit: Kings Cross Steelers / Simon Dunn