This week in Australia, liberals are attempting to revive the gay marriage debate after 30 of the country’s largest companies sent a letter to its prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull. The letter urges the government to allow a free vote in Parliament to legalize gay marriage. As Australia’s government crawls toward marriage equality, homophobia is still deeply entrenched in the country, especially when it comes to sports.
A recent study found that 80 percent of Australians say they’ve witnessed or experienced homophobia while playing or watching sports. Half of gay men say they’ve personally been targeted, and 75 percent believe an openly gay person would not be safe watching a sporting event. That’s why the strong stance being taken by a gay Australian cowboy is so important.
The rodeo community in rural Australia is steeped in homophobia. But one rider, 18-year-old Josh Goyne, is standing up to the hate he faces on community message boards. “Today I was asked if I thought it was good that gays died of AIDS, and then the guy said he wished it was 1850 so he could shoot me for being a fag,” Goyne said in a video he posted to Facebook. But Goyne pledges to keep speaking out. “The gay cowboy will never be silenced,” he said. “I will forever be an openly gay cowboy. I will happily give a voice to those too scared to speak up.”
In his Facebook video, Goyne sticks his neck out to stand up for other gay cowboys without a voice. “They think they’re gonna stop me from riding in this week’s rodeo—not a chance in hell. I will proudly stand up to any homophobe and say right to their face that I’m a proud openly gay cowboy.” Goyne’s activism has earned him a free trip to to the United States to compete in the “Texas Tradition Rodeo,” sponsored by the Texas Gay Rodeo Association. A GoFundMe page with a goal of $7,200 for his trip was set up by supporters in Colorado and it has already surpassed its goal.