The second annual AFLW Pride Game between the Western Bulldogs and Carlton is coming up this weekend, and it feels like a perfect opportunity to reflect on the AFLW’s relationship to its LGBTQIA+ fans and the game itself.
It sounds like a tired cliché but AFLW has offered a chance to watch footy to many who otherwise felt marginalised in this space, namely women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Claire Flynn, a Carlton fan, tells me that she had completely given up on watching men’s footy.
“I couldn’t reconcile the abuses on and off the field around AFL and the wider football community,” she said.
“The rampant sexism, homophobia, racism, transphobia just meant it had nothing of value to me...That is [where I find] the value of AFLW and Pride games.”
Such a game makes for bittersweet moments.
Laura, also a Carlton fan, feels had she seen the inclusiveness of the match when she was growing up, “my journey as a young woman struggling with my sexuality may have been very different.”
“I never knew how much I needed women’s footy in my life until the inaugural AFLW match in 2017.”
Claire agrees: “The Pride Game matters because it sparks conversations, and it just reflects the point that people are queer and they play and support footy.”
Elisabeth Tuckey, the former CEO of youth homelessness non-profit charity Ladder and a Western Bulldogs fan, said that the game makes her “proud to be a part of such a wonderful club.”
She said when the club supported Hannah Scott to tell her story in the media before the inaugural Pride Game last year, it was a “pretty special moment... Scotty instantly became my favourite player.”
While some fans want to soak up all the football that they can get, others feel a lot more comfortable at AFLW games and only watch the women.