In 2017 – my 35th year on this planet – I finally stopped making excuses and decided to prioritise my writing. I wanted to give the ideas and characters that had swam around inside my head for the better part of a decade a chance.
Somewhere to go.
Somewhere to grow.
Where? I didn’t know. And I didn’t care.
Each day of 2017 I have tried to make a conscious effort to write something, or if I wasn’t writing, to read, or listen, or view something about writing.
I have been inspired, challenged, changed.
And I have finally finished a fucking script.
BECOME THE ONE is an unapologetic main stage queer romance between a bisexual AFL player and a younger man that examines the hyper-masculinity of sport and what happens to clandestine relationships when good intentions and patience aren’t enough anymore.
After five drafts and a reading, I have just discovered it has been selected for the Playtime Staged Readings held by Gasworks Arts Park as part of the 2018 Midsumma Festival.
Playtime aims to identify, support and develop new talent and get queer issues out there for mainstream audiences to consider and enjoy. From an open call for applications four plays are selected to participate in the staged readings. One work will be selected by an industry panel and audience feedback to go on to receive support and development to become a full scale work and be presented at Midsumma 2019.
This is an incredible opportunity and I am quite humble and extremely honoured to have my work chosen.
I was asked to provide some commentary about the work for potential press opportunities.
This is what I came up with.
I first had the idea for this story in 2007, as a provocation to the fact we still didn’t have an openly queer player in the AFL. I continued to sit on the idea, convinced that it was only a matter of time.
Fast forward ten years, and despite greater acceptance for LGBTIQ people, historic victories such as the recent marriage equality postal survey and events like the AFL Pride Games, we still don’t have an openly queer player in the men’s league.
As usual, it has been women who have led the way, with AFLW players like Penny Cula-Reid and Mia-Rae Clifford celebrating the queer space that exists on the sporting field.
What does this say about Australian men? And for a country seemingly obsessed with sports that idolise masculine traits, what does this say about all of us? I love watching AFL, but I hate the toxic culture of masculinity that permeates every part of it and which often prevents me feeling like I can safely attend live games.
In 2015 an international study found 80 per cent of Australians involved in sport witnessed homophobia and 75 per cent believed an openly gay person would not be safe as a spectator at a sporting event.
While this is perhaps one of the reasons behind a lack of any openly queer AFL players, I find it difficult to believe that, statistically, from the thousands of men who have played at elite AFL level, not one of them has ever experienced a queer relationship while still playing.
Treating this assumption as fact, I turned my attention to these hypothetical queer partners of AFL players; to their silence, to their complicity, and to the obvious points of conflict their position in such relationships must throw up.
Over the past ten years I’ve lost hope in an AFL athlete coming out on their own, so I wrote BECOME THE ONE to ask: what if it was the partner, and not the athlete, who became the driving force behind breaking this heteronormative taboo in Australian sport? What would they – and their journey – look like? What might it take, and what might be sacrificed, to live openly as a queer couple?
And I’d really love to see you there.