Teenage trans activist Georgie Stone has been named the Pride Ambassador for the AFL’s upcoming Pride Game in Melbourne.
The 18-year-old, who is this year’s Young Victorian of the Year, said she’s proud to support her team and their commitment to inclusion.
“I have been a St Kilda fan pretty much for as long as I can remember. Watching the footy and particularly barracking for the Saints has been a part of my life forever,” she said.
“Having my sporting team being so supporting of the LGBTIQ community is fantastic and I feel like now I can really enjoy the footy and go to matches and feel like I belong.”
The AFL’s Pride Game was first held in 2016, and is returning for a third time next month. The theme of this year’s match is “I’ll Stand By You,” recognising the importance of family and support networks among the LGBTIQ community.
St Kilda Saints CEO Matt Finnis says the team’s new tradition creates a sense of belonging for the club’s players, coaches, staff and supporters.
“We’re really proud of the work we do through the year when it comes to celebrating diversity and fostering a welcoming environment and the Pride Game is the ultimate show of that,” Finnis said.
“The Pride Game shines a light on the importance of inclusion and ensuring football is a game for everyone and it’s been a pleasure partnering with the [Sydney] Swans for the past few years to bring that concept to the big stage.”
The Pride Game is conducted in partnership with VicHealth, who has used surveys conducted at the matches to measure the positive effect it has on LGBTIQ fans of AFL.
VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said the game sends a clear message to LGBTIQ players, fans and community members that they are welcome and accepted.
“Our research has found three out of five LGBTIQ footy fans have experienced or witnessed homophobia or transphobia at a football game,” Rechter said.
“However, over 90% of LGBTIQ people who attended the first Pride Game found it welcoming, safe and inclusive.
“VicHealth’s vision – which I know is shared by St Kilda Football Club – is that all LGBTIQ players, fans and community members are welcome and safe in sport.
“No one should have to choose between being themselves and the sport they love.”
The Pride Game between St Kilda Saints and the Sydney Swans will be held on June 9 at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
Watch Georgie tell her story below: