Ian Thorpe and other Australian Sports Legends come out for Mardi Gras Film Festival

MGFF Ian Thorpe OUT to WinIan Thorpe, Matthew Mitcham, Sally Shipard, Daniel Kowalski, Shelly Gorman-Sandie and Casey Conway will form a panel discussion about being elite gay athletes as part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival screening of Out to Win on Sunday, 28 February at Sydney’s Event Cinemas, George Street.

Co-presented with ACON and Pride in Diversity, this high profile panel of Australian athletes will discuss the impact their sexuality has had on their careers and personal lives. The panel will follow the screening of Malcolm Ingram’s documentary examining the lives of aspiring and professional gay and lesbian athletes, featuring interviews with Billie Jean King, Jason Collins, John Amaechi, Martina Navratilova, Michael Sam and many more.

“We are thrilled to host so many Australian sporting legends at our screening and highlight one of our key themes this year which is a focus on LGBTIQ and equality in sport,” explains Festival Director Paul Struthers. “With the visibility of LGBTIQ athletes continuing to rise, and many deciding to come out during their careers, we are celebrating by presenting four excellent LGBTIQ sporting documentaries highlighting diversity at all levels of sporting competition.”

As part of ACON and Pride in Diversity’s newly launched Pride in Sport program that includes the world-first LGBTI Pride in Sport Index, hosting the Out to Win panel is an important step in addressing homophobia and the exclusion of LGBTI people in sport.

“Many of Australia’s sporting organisations are recognising positive steps need to be taken to ensure your sexuality, gender identity or intersex status does not impact your ability to play, watch or be involved with sport at any level,” said Andrew Purchas, Vice President of ACON and a co -founder of the Pride in Sport Index.

“The Pride in Sport Index will provide sporting organisations with the opportunity to annually benchmark their inclusion efforts and promote equality in sporting opportunity. Out to Win highlights, in many aspects, the USA currently leads Australia in this regard.”

Other sports documentaries in the Festival’s Focus on Sport program include Back on Board: Greg Louganis chronicling the American diver’s career and retirement; Australian-made Scrum following the players fighting to get a position on the Sydney Convicts Rugby Club for the 2014 Bingham Cup; and Game Face exploring the lives of LGBTIQ athletes including transgender lesbian MMA fighter Fallon Fox and basketballer Terrence Clemens.

Tickets for all films are now on sale. For more information, visit: www.queerscreen.org.au for details.

Image: Ian Thorpe (supplied)