Jeff Kennett, whether he likes it or not, is a gay icon. He possesses such dramatic flair with his hairstyle and is draped in his team’s flamboyant colours on match day.
However, to pry further away from such observations, it’s more what he says that allows him to fulfil this role.
Regardless of his socially conservative philosophy, Kennett proudly came out and suggested that that five per cent of all AFL footballers are homosexual; and that he knows specifically of some examples.
Now, as the head of Beyond Blue, Kennett is able to relish and have a first-hand look into the disturbing trend that sees sexually repressed people more likely to suffer from mental illness or depression than heterosexuals due to their fears surrounding the acceptance of their peers.
Naturally, the environment of a football club is one where being gay seems mostly unacceptable; if what Kennett says about the disturbing links between depression and anxiety due to sexual repression is and always has been an alarming trend, then the AFL must get involved.
This closeted and repressed environment does exist in the real world, and if the AFL has taken it upon itself to give the Indigenous community the spotlight, incorporating women into their teams of match officials and also highlighted the importance of the administrators that keep our brilliant game running – then why can’t we make way for one more minority?
If health is involved, don’t you think the AFL should also step up to the plate? If the AFL sells an image, one that is family friendly and tolerant, shouldn’t we allow leaders from the Gay and Lesbian Community to openly become ambassadors?
If we can have the AFL stand up to support anti-obesity measures and getting the kiddies to stay healthy and whatnot; shouldn’t they support an initiative that will change community standards and preconceptions about the homosexual community, to in turn hopefully lower the mental health risk for some?
Many may say this is a lofty task, but the AFL has proven itself time and again to be most proficient in dealing with these issues of intolerance, ignorance and integration.
Jeff is, regardless of his tangled and conflicted view on gay lifestyles, now a proponent of this movement. He’s right. And that’s hard for me to say, because my dad the lifelong ALP supporter would beat me back into non-existence if I mentioned something like this in public.
If the AFL wants to be seen as a consistent body; one that has crafted a particular image of its brand, should it fall further and further behind Rugby League in promoting equality?
Surely it’s time for action.