A young gay Manly player has been devastated by the stance taken by seven of his club-mates to stand down this weekend rather than wear the club’s pride jersey.
The players on Monday decided to boycott the clash with the Roosters, refusing to wear the jersey, which supports the LGBTQ community.
The players, believed to be Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula, Christian Tuipulotu and Toafofoa Sipley, are refusing to play in the jersey on religious grounds.
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But their stance has left a promising young homosexual Sea Eagle, who has not yet come out publicly, devastated.
“He is a good young player coming through the grades and just wanted to play first grade for Manly,” a close friend of the player told Wide World of Sports.
“But this move by the players has shocked him. He thought they would accept him for who he is if he ever decided to make his sexual preferences public – clearly that is not the case.
“He has been devastated by this turn of events – the pride jumper is supposed to be a sign of hope and inclusion.
“The fact that half the team would boycott it rather than play has deeply saddened him.
“They have no problem supporting gambling on their jumpers, which is a sin according to the Bible. But when it comes to homosexuality, they have a problem.”
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Former Manly hard man Ian Roberts made world headlines as the first footballer to openly declare he was gay in the 1990s.
On Monday he told The Sydney Morning Herald he was upset but not surprised by the Manly players’ stance on the one-off jersey.
“It hasn’t totally shocked me like it’s shocking everyone else. As an older gay man, I’m used to this. I expected there would be some sort of religious pushback,” Roberts said.
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