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Australian athletes wear rainbow laces to fight sports homophobia

SB NationSB Nation 13/04/2016 Jim Buzinski

"A slip of the tongue might seem innocent enough, but it actually does have a significant impact on someone," says one player.

The Rainbow Laces initiative, designed to raise awareness of homophobia in sports, has moved Down Under, with pro Australian athletes wearing the laces.

Rugby union player Matt Toomua of the ACT Brumbies (being tackled in the photo) wore the laces in a game earlier this month: Toomua gave some excellent perspective to The Age that shows he gets the issue:

"For me it's about creating an environment where if we did have a gay player come through, they would be comfortable in their skin," Toomua said.

"A slip of the tongue might seem innocent enough, but it actually does have a significant impact on someone.

"The fact most gay players come out after they've retired says something [about sport]. There's a reason for that. If that's the case, we want to create an environment where that's not what's happening. It's just creating a culture where people can be who they are.

Matt Toomua © Provided by SB Nation Matt Toomua

"It's just about being aware of things like language ... the experiences I've had has been fairly positive but every now and then there is a slip of the tongue."

David Pocock, another pro rugby player we've long written about at Outsports for his pro-gay advocacy, was another to wear the laces.

The Australian initiative is called "Rainbow Round of Sport" and modeled after a similar campaign started in English soccer. It's great to have high-visibility athletes in these countries take a stand.

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