• Rennae Stubbs of Australia plays a backhand in her Women's Legends' Doubles match during the 2014 Australian Open on January 19, 2014 in Melbourne. (Getty Images)
In the lead-up to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, we chat to some of Australia’s out women in sport about what it means to be open about your sexuality as an elite athlete.
By
Rennae Stubbs, Danielle Warby

28 Feb 2016 - 5:15 PM  UPDATED 3 Mar 2016 - 3:23 PM

I never wanted to have to hide who I was once I was done playing tennis.

Everyone in my sport knew about me but I didn’t want to have to worry when I was finished that I had to hide who I was as a person to my future employer.

I wanted to be hired and fired based on my ability in my job and not because I was gay.

I never had an issue after coming out. I felt like people treated me the same way and I felt very comfortable in my life. It was liberating to never have to hide my true self ever again.

Parents and family play a huge role in athletes coming out

Acceptance in their sport and community is obviously very important for them to feel safe and happy but overall I think what's most important is they’re accepted in their own family first.

I believe that once parents accept the they’re ok with their kids being gay and love them no matter what, then the child can feel a lot more comfortable coming out. It so important for the ones closest to you to accept and love you.

Everything after that is just bigotry and noise.

It's important for there to be out gay sportswomen

It's important for people to see people for who they truly are, accept them and recognise its not weird or different but normal.

People are who they are, they love who they love and the more people come out and be themselves, the more acceptance will come with that.

Parents can see that just because their child idolises someone who happens to be gay, doesn’t mean that their child will be gay BUT if their child happens to be gay, they have someone to look to and say, I am ok and this is ok and I can be great at my sport and in life and not be ashamed of who I am.

It empowers everyone.

Stigma and machismo are keeping men in the closet

Because there is such a stigma attached to male sports being a “macho” thing. But again, the percentage is always going to be there. I just believe it is much harder and “scarier” for a male to come out in their sport because of the stigma attached to that. Whether it is sponsorship, endorsements and just the feeling of being ostracised by the male population who are fans. I don’t believe it would be a huge problem with team mates because I would say most would know in their teams but I hope we have some more brave guys out there willing to move the needle.  

Marriage equality

I hope one day in Australia we can finally have marriage equality so I don’t have to be ashamed to say to people around the world, "oh no Australia doesn’t have marriage equality!"

People around the world see Australia as this amazing liberal country that is fun loving, accepts everyone and everything and it's not the case. I hope one day soon I can be proud of the legislation in Australia.