Athletes, Coaches Slam Remarks by Australian Footballer Telling Gay Players to Stay in the Closet

Australian sports figures reacted today to a column written by Jason Akermanis, a player for Australia's Western Bulldogs football club, telling gay players to stay in the closet because they won't be accepted.

Ian_robertsSaid the Rugby League's first openly gay player Ian Roberts

"At first I just laughed it off. But quite literally there are kids out in the suburbs that are killing themselves. It would be funny if it wasn't for that.  It's almost like that's the one area … where people are still allowed to bash gay people, verbally or physically.  If he had said that about someone of colour or religion or someone of a genetic deformity, the public wouldn't stand for it. It almost gathers momentum … and makes it more difficult again for people who are trying to find that peace within themselves.  For any young kid out there in the suburbs having difficulties with his sexuality … all he (Akermanis) has done is totally burn that child.  And I mean that with all my heart. When I heard Jason's comments, it's almost like, what century are we in? Where is this guy coming from? Well I can tell him, I can promise him, there are people in his locker room who are gay – they're just not out. Ignorance is no excuse."

Said recently out former Olympic swimmer Daniel Kowalski

"I'm disappointed, I'm mad, I'm angry, I'm sad. When you get comments like that from a guy of his stature, why would you come out?  It's disappointing more than anything. Jason Akermanis has always been known for being a human headline.  I'm at a loss because a lot of work has been done by Pippa Grange and the AFL Players' Association and there is support and it's continuing to gather.  He talks in a sense of 'we' like he's speaking for every player in the AFL."

Sydney Swans coach Paul Roos slammed Akermanis:

“If any one of our players happened to be gay or came out, he wouldn’t be alienated by this group of players, I know that. In today’s day and age, it’s reasonably irresponsible, what Jason’s said this morning and hopefully it doesn’t reflect the views of the majority of people in the AFL.  It’s a staggering story when you read it. If it had have been written in 1943 or something like that, you could have been forgiven. But in 2010, to hear something like that is just bizarre. I’d be staggered [if League CEO] Andrew Demetriou would think it reflects the wider views of the AFL, because that’s certainly not the case.”


  1. TampaZeke says


    We need MORE, MORE, MORE athletes, coaches and managers to speak up and denounce this asshat; especially straight athletes, coaches and managers.

    This guy had a very specific agenda. He made it very clear that he was trying to thwart any pending coming out event that was being rumored. It is almost bizarre how much he is investing in keeping that player, or players, from coming out. What on earth could cause him to be so invested in something that won’t affect him in any way? I’m seriously asking. That’s not a rhetorical question. And, to be clear, I don’t think he is closeted or anything like that, which makes his over-the-top “concern” all the more bizarre.

    I think the Swans coach hit on the perfect word to describe his strange commentary; “BIZARRE!”

  2. says


    “Not closeted”…….or working up a real convincing Bunbury alias ?
    Now I wonder if he will go looking for a luggage carrier, I know where there is one recently unemployed who would fit the bill nicely.

  3. Steve says

    I think the media has been unfair to athletic organizations – as they have to the military. Most people in those organizations are *far* more tolerant of gays than we think.

    Thanks for speaking up – as with the Christian homophobes in the U.S., the most vocal anti-gay voices are definitely in the minority.

  4. says

    The league should fine the guy heavily and suspend him from play. Again, had he made these same type of remarks about race, religion, disability, or color action would have to have been taken by the league itself. His words are entirely disrespectful of all players and citizens. Disgusting. This puts one big black eye on the Australian Football Club and all Aussie sports in general. Until an apology is made no one should watch anything having to do with Aussie football. Hit ’em where it hurts. If he thinks he’s untouchable then take his position away from him and let him sit on the sidelines in humiliation.

  5. Cristian says

    Andy, why do you keep using the image of Kieran Perkins facing the camera with stories about Daniel Kowalski? Understandable perhaps the first time, but I thought it was brought to your attention? He deserves more than just his back, surely.

  6. Yeek says

    I’m glad there are reputable athletes on the other side of the argument who are just as willing to speak up.

    To me, Akermanis sounds like a guy with a streak of visceral discomfort with gay men who somewhere deep down knows better. Hence remarks of “I hope things improve someday” and “I knew a great guy who was a gay athlete”, mixed in with the “my world isn’t ready, and it’d be a bad idea.” The message is a little bipolar. He’s trying to be discourage without frankly admitting that gay men give him the creeps ‘just because.’

    Maybe that’s giving him too much credit, but that’s where I’m at on this one. Ready or not, his world is changing. I hope he can as well. Play ball or go home.

  7. Pyre says

    Unfortunately for Akermanis, most people outside of Melbourne and Sydney already think AFL is the “gay” football code. It’s all short shorts and ballet moves. I mean, along with the requisite groping and humping you get in all kinds of football.

  8. Sean says

    Unfortunately Akermanis has also made racist remarks in the past and kept his job regardless of it, when he referred to a group of indigenous players as playing like “monkeys” – so I doubt he’ll lose any of his gigs over this either. He’s a tool.

  9. Jerrry12 says

    “Me thinks thou dost protest too much.” Translation:”I’m Gay, but do not have the guts to come out. Therefore, you stay in the closet with me and we can all hide with no one else knowing.”

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