Rainbow Counsellor Lisa Michelle is here to help with your problems.
Q. One of the guys on the rugby team I captain just came out. The guys haven’t said anything in front of him, but behind his back they call him names like poof and fag. My problem is I’m gay too, but nobody knows. I don’t know whether to speak up or just lay low. I’d want someone to support me if I came out, but do I risk my own reputation for him?
A. I think you answered your own question when you said you would want someone to support you. As the team captain, it’s important you remind the team about respecting one another. Rugby players have a reputation for being macho men both on and off the field, but your team-mate (and yourself) are not the only ones who will be closeted within this sport. You are in a position to make a stand on behalf of all Rainbow sportsmen and women, and as the captain the others will listen to you. A simple “Hey, we are a team, a family, and brothers look after brothers” helps teach them it’s not okay to bully others for being different. If the abusive language continues, stand the player(s) responsible down for a game or two. Play nice, or don’t play at all.
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Lisa Michelle is a Chaplain and Counsellor for the GLBT Community, working with both Rainbow Youth and OUTLine NZ as an independent consultant and also on the board of OUTLine.