Cricket star Alex Blackwell says lesbians in sport are ‘profiled as predators’
Former Australian cricketer Alex Blackwell has said she has felt “profiled as a predator” because she is a lesbian in sport.
The former Australia vice-captain became the first female international cricketer to come out as gay in 2013, but since then she has come across some damaging assumptions.
She told Guardian Australia, about conversations she has had with administrators, in which they said there was a problem with “predatory behaviour in women’s sport”.
She said: “Their concern is that poor behaviour in women’s sport is by the lesbians. I have felt profiled because I’m a lesbian, profiled as a predator.
“Lesbians in sport have been profiled as predators. That is very hurtful and I’m tired of that.
“It’s really unfair to profile a group of people as good or bad based on a characteristic like sexuality or skin colour or religion… because perceptions of what goes on in team sports where there are lesbians doesn’t match reality.”
The assumptions have not been tackled, Blackwell said, “because it’s sensitive and we fear offending each other”.
She said the problem lies with administrators, rather than within teams, and the only way to dispel the myth of “predatory lesbians” in sport is to have difficult conversations.
“I do feel like the thing that’s damaging for me has not been the talk within teams; it’s the attitudes I observe and the comments I hear from administrators who seem to have a concern,” she said.
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“I believe it’s unfounded, but it’s a real concern for them, and so we need to continue to have the conversation in respectful ways to understand what their concerns are and then go about trying to quantify and qualify the issue before we try to tackle it.
“I’ve not witnessed [predatory behaviour from lesbians] and I’ve been in it for 20 years. But what is it in that comment that’s important? It’s workplace behaviour for everybody, that’s what’s important.
“So let’s try to focus on the common goals, which is more girls and women playing sport and having a wonderful experience.”
The former cricketer is calling for more research to “understand what the harms are” when it comes to workplace behaviour in sport, “instead of perceiving there to be a problem that may not actually exist”.
Blackwell has long campaigned for LGBT+ inclusion and acceptance in sport, and last year supported Cricket Australia’s new guidelines supporting transgender and gender diverse people to play cricket at the highest level.
She said: “I benefited so much from sport in elite teams [and] I don’t think trans and gender diverse people should be excluded from that.”