Former AFLW star Moana Hope has opened up about the disgusting homophobic abuse she’s seen as both a footy player and an AFL fan.
Hope, who played in the AFLW for Collingwood and North Melbourne, said the abusive taunts even drove her away from attending AFL matches.
She told the Herald Sun during one 2017 match she played for Collingwood against Fremantle, a spectator called her a “stupid d*ke” from behind the fence.
“I don’t normally hear the crowd because I’m so drawn into the game. But when I heard that I was blown away,” she said.
“And I was hurt and a little bit scared because I thought, ‘Why are you calling me that? I’m a person.’
“Why are you using such a negative term? [After the game] I was a little bit scared, hesitant, to walk off the field because I was worried he’d be there to abuse me.”
In another incident, a fan sitting near Hope at a Richmond-Collingwood match repeatedly yelled “f***ot” at Dustin Martin.
“There was a guy with his mate in the crowd, kids all around him,” she said.
“Dusty kicked this freak goal over his head. This guy stands up and starts yelling that he’s a f***ot and all these other unnecessary things.
“The No.1 go-to for him and his mate was to call him a f***ot. You could see the kids around them, questioning and looking at him and even laughing. That is never acceptable.”
Moana Hope says abuse drove her away from AFL matches
Hope said the incident had discouraged her from attending AFL matches. However she praised the AFL for “knuckling down on [homophobia] and kicking people out” in recent years.
“We should be coming together. Yes, be passionate and cheer. [However] if someone misses a goal say ‘ha you missed’, but not ‘you’re a f***ot, you’re a gay bastard’.
“The more society changes, the more comfortable and more confidence I get.
“I want to go to all games. When I have kids I want to go, but I don’t want to take them if I have to explain why the guy beside me is yelling out ‘f***ot’.
“It’s just not acceptable and you never know what people are going through.
“Who we fall in love with has nothing to do with these names. This is why kids in school are scared to be who they are whether they are gay or not, because you get picked on if you’re different.”
Hope said she and wife Isabella Carlstrom had “lost count” of the lewd comments they’d copped when in public together.
“I’ve had things said to us like, ‘One night with me will make you realise you need a man in your life,’” she said.
“I’ve been there when guys have grabbed Bella’s arse and said ‘You need an actual man’. Those things happen all the time.
“We walk down the street and get looked up and down. I’ve just had enough.”
Moana Hope played in the inaugural AFLW season for Collingwood in 2017, before moving to North Melbourne in 2019.
Last year, Moana announced her withdrawal from the 2020 AFLW draft nomination for family and mental health reasons. However, she hopes to make a comeback.
AFLW Pride Games this weekend
This weekend, four teams will play two Pride Games to support and celebrate LGBTIQ inclusion in football.
St Kilda Saints player Tilly Lucas-Rodd will take part, and said she believes the Pride Games are vital for young fans.
“I’m gay, so growing up I didn’t have role models I could aspire to be like,” she said.
“I think it’s really important that we’re visible and people can see us and young people can have those role models to look up to.”
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.