From Passion to Purpose: Finding My Community in Sport

Minus18’s Rebecca Herft on the important role sport has played in her life as a hobby, career path and safe space to explore her sexuality.

We sat down with Rebecca Herft, Sponsorships and Partnerships Coordinator at Minus18, to talk about her identity journey and why she’s passionate about creating safe spaces for the LGBTQ2IA+ community.

lululemon:  Tell us about yourself; who is Rebecca Herft?

Rebecca: My name is Bec (she/her) and I'm a proud second generation Australian-Sri Lankan woman who is also a very proud bisexual woman. I'm an energetic, bright and bubbly human being, who wears my heart on my sleeve.

When I'm not working, you'll find me either at a sporting game or watching sport on TV, at the beach, the gym, or surrounded by my incredible loved ones.

 

lululemon:  Can you reflect on a moment when you’ve felt most proud and present?

Rebecca: In my first season of gridiron, I was lucky enough to be awarded Rookie of the Year for Gridiron Victoria. Gridiron is so close to my heart, as it was the first time that I was around my queer community, and the first time that I felt like I could be my true authentic self – a bisexual woman.

This was also my first time playing competitive sport after 10 knee dislocations. When my name was called out at the Vic Bowl, my heart felt so full – maybe the fullest it's ever been. Winning this award was so much more than a trophy or a 'title'. It was about knowing that I had found my community, and a place where I truly felt safe.

 

"It was about knowing that I had found my community, and a place where I truly felt safe."

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lululemon:  What role has sport played in your life?

Rebecca: Professionally and personally, sport has played a massive part in my life. It started at the age of three when I attended an AFL game with my dad, to shooting my first ever basketball with friends, to then recovering from knee surgery to play American football. I'm very grateful that sport led me on this journey to being confident in my sexuality, and to also be an advocate in the Pride and inclusion sector of sport.

Starting the conversation of LGBTQ2IA+ inclusion within AFL Victoria to [then] leading the AFLW's Pride Round are massive, beautiful moments that I'll cherish in every step of my career. These are the moments where sport played a massive part in my life. Sport supported growing my career, allowed me to be a voice for queer identities and gave me the opportunity to bring people together and create a safe space for all to be involved. Sport started as a hobby, then led to a passion, and is now one of my core values in life.

 

lululemon:  Can you tell us a bit about your identity journey?

Rebecca: Sport truly was the safest place for me to explore my identity. I met a beautiful friend who supported me every step of the way – from crying in a cafe about how I was going to tell my parents, to going to my first Sundaylicious event, and all the way to making my first tackle at football. My confidence in myself and my ability grew as I slowly told more people about who I was. Even though it broke my heart to tell some people – and hide who I am from people I loved so dearly – it eventually took a massive weight off my shoulders.

Within a professional setting, I was very grateful that I had two beautiful allies at AFL Victoria who supported me in sharing my coming out story to the wider AFL Victoria team. I was nervous, but I felt so supported, and from that conversation came a year of positive change for the sport. I was lucky enough to lead AFL Victoria's Pride Group, as well as Chair the Pride & Allies Group nationally for the AFL, and further share my love for sport and my beautiful identity with others in the organisation. Change was made, goals were conquered, and education was shared across the sport nationally. I knew from this point that I needed to wholeheartedly work within the Pride sector and step away from sport to fuel this beautiful fire in me to create change for LGBTQ2IA+ young people.

This is how I found my way to Minus18 – an incredible organisation who are leaders in LGBTQ2IA+ inclusion in Australia.

lululemon:  What is your role at Minus18 and what do you love most about your job?

Rebecca: As the Sponsorships and Partnerships Coordinator at Minus18, my role is to support the Youth and Events team to deliver dozens of free events for LGBTQ2IA+ young people across Australia all year round!

I love that I can connect with so many different people from many organisations to support, guide and empower them on their journey to being the best allies they can be for queer young people. I love so many things about my job but being able to attend a Queer Formal and look around the room at every single LGBTQ2IA+ person making friends and connecting with their community is truly a beautiful moment and what I love most. You know at that moment that everything you do makes a huge impact on a young person and how they see themselves. It's truly beautiful.

 

"Part of the incredible work Minus18 does is to support people in becoming active LGBTQ2IA+ allies."

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lululemon: Why is allyship important, and what are three tips you would share on being an active LGBTQ2IA+ ally?

Rebecca: Allyship is so important as you genuinely feel that you have people who support and advocate for you and your community. You feel like people hear you, that they see you, and that they'll continue to celebrate who you are – and that feeling is indescribable

Part of the incredible work Minus18 does is to support people in becoming active LGBTQ2IA+ allies. Our three tips are to:

  1. Undertake education and workshops at your workplace, school or wider community supported by Minus18. Education is powerful and has the power to change hearts and minds. It can make a huge difference in creating allies.

  2. Participate in Pride campaigns, such as IDAHOBIT or Wear it Purple Day. Supporting a charity or organisation that champions inclusion year-round is a wonderful way to make a lasting impact in your community. It's also a beautiful way to help someone feel like their workplace or school is a safe space for them.

  3. Be visible in your allyship! You can hang up rainbow posters in your office or wear a rainbow lanyard (or pin) to let LGBTQ2IA+ colleagues/friends/clients know that you're an ally. You may also like to wear a pronoun badge on your t-shirt or display them in your email signature or in an online meeting. Every little bit supports a queer person in feeling like they belong.


Pride has always been about holding space for all people to be seen and to be heard. In recognition of Pride 2023, we are amplifying voices from our LGBTQ2IA+ community; sharing stories on being Proud & Present. Click here to read more

 

 

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