Jason Akermanis, you are an idiot.

In a typically misguided, ill-informed and downright homophobic column in today’s Herald Sun, Akermanis argues that a current player admitting they were gay would be “international news and could break the fabric of a club.” He mourns the loss of quality heterosexual nude shower time, suggesting that he and his teammates would be justified in feeling uncomfortable should a gay man intrude on their heterosexual utopia.

Time to enter the 21st century, Aker. AFL and NRL codes are suffering public relations crises because of the inability of a small percentage of people such as you to come to terms with the responsibilities entailed in living in modern society. No, Nathan Bock, it’s not OK to assault your girlfriend. And no, Aker, it’s not OK to discriminate against a fellow player because your stupid prejudices make you feel uncomfortable in the shower.

Arguing that homosexuality is acceptable, but not in AFL football, completely misreads the social leadership status the AFL has in our community. Campaigns about respecting women have been emphasised by the AFL because it believes it can make a difference — and I hate to wonder why it received $400,000 in government money to promote this cause if that wasn’t the case.

Like it or not, AFL players are leaders. They might not like it, but young people respect and follow what they do. Just like we learn many of our behaviours and mannerisms from our parents, teachers and friends, we also learn much from our heroes.

Akermanis suggests that being gay is acceptable in female sports but not male. Besides being a sweeping assertion with little backing in fact or experience, all this suggests is that female sporting players have grown up enough to be able to share a change room facility with  heteros-xual and homos-xual women without having a childish, irrational towel tantrum. It is true though — I can’t imagine ever thinking any less of a teammate if they were to “come out of the closet”, I certainly wouldn’t develop the need to change my change room habits.

Being homophobic, Aker, is not excused because you value an outdated blokey AFL culture. In case you’ve missed it, the AFL is trying to develop an inclusive culture that welcomes all variety of people of all backgrounds, races and skill sets. If a player is gay, publicly or privately, he deserves your support, not your childish fears.

Changing social perception is about awareness and highlighting prejudices that are no longer acceptable. Aker, you’d be doing us all a favour if you just shut your mouth.

*This was first published on Back Page Lead, a sports opinion website that provides sports content to Crikey.

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