To celebrate Pride Month, we spoke to women’s player Serena ‘Reenie’ Franke about her football journey as someone part of the LGBT+ community.
Pride month is celebrated in June across the globe. It can mean many different things to different people, and for Reenie it is about celebrating the LGBT+ community and paving a welcoming path forward for LGBT+ people.
“Pride month to me is a time to look back on LGBT+ history, celebrate LGBT+ achievements, and an opportunity to look to the future and consider how we can improve LGBT+ inclusion.”
After playing basketball for a long time, Reenie decided to take up footy and started with the VU Spurs about 7 years ago. It was a natural fit and no surprise she was part of the NFNL Women’s Division 2 Team of the Year, and a key part of the Premiership team in her first season.
Unfortunately Reenie suffered an injury and decided she would end her footy career to avoid another injury and missing work. She had no intention to ever play again, but that all changed when her friend convinced her to fill in for the St Mary’s women’s team. Now it’s four years later and she is still here!
“I was only meant be a one-week fill in, but I had such a great time, and before I knew it I was officially part of the first St Mary’s women’s team.”
“Despite the club being far from where I live, I just keep coming because of the great culture and even better people.”
Reenie’s passion for our club is particularly touching, as recent research highlighted that LGBT+ people find sports environments unwelcoming. However, there is still along way to go for full LGBT+ inclusion across our club and many others, but luckily women like Reenie are leading the way!
“To improve LGBT+ inclusion in sport we need to embrace pride.”
“This means making LGBT+ visible to show acceptance and love. This normalises the LGBT+ community and is knocking down the walls of a heteronormative society and showing everyone that sexuality is fluid, and it’s okay to just be you.”
“I think we are achieving this within women’s sport, but we could do more for our male counterparts, which is clear as there is no male AFL player that is openly gay.”
“As a society, we also need to look at how we can support male athletes who may identify as LGBT+.”
For more information on LGBT+ inclusion, visit Minus18.