Q&A with Stand Out Cup founder Mark Beecham
This weekend the second Stand Out Cup will be held at Hawthorn Hockey ground on Sunday the 26th of March. Inspired by similar initiatives tackling pride in sport, Mark Beecham started the Stand Out Cup to combat homophobia, transphobia and biphobia in hockey.
The annual event culminates in a match between Old Xaverians Hockey Club and Toorak East Malvern Hockey Club with all money raised going to charity Minus18.
Proud 2 Play caught up with Mark to discuss why he started the Stand Out Cup, why it was important to include hockey in the conversation, and the future for LGBTQI sportspeople.
Why did you want to start an event like the Stand Out Cup?
We decided to start the Stand Out Cup because we wanted to do something to raise awareness of homophobia and transphobia in sport and to help make sport/hockey an environment where everyone feels safe and accepted. We also want the Stand Out Cup to be a celebration of diversity within hockey and the broader community.
Was there a specific event or finding that really inspired you to try make a difference?
Most people in sport have experienced or witnessed homophobic/transphobic behaviours, some more damaging than others. It was the cumulative effect of such behaviours that made us want to take a stand. A number of members of our hockey club are LGBTIQ but it has not necessarily been a push from them to bring about change but a push from those who identify as straight that have recognised the need for change, which I think is a really positive thing.
With the Stand Out Cup in it’s second year, was it important to make the event an annual event and not just a one off?
We want the Stand Out Cup to grow every year as a celebration of diversity and to communicate/promote the importance of making sport a safe place for all participants. Hopefully, some day there won’t be the need to talk about homophobia/transphobia in sport as such attitudes simply won’t exist. It would be fantastic to get to a point where events like this are simply a celebration.
Is great to have Minus18 on board with the Stand Out Cup?
Both Minus18 and Proud2Play have been fantastic with their support. This event couldn’t go ahead without help from such organisations. Aside from promoting a positive message, we are also hoping to raise some funds from the event to donate to such organisations that make a significant contribution to society. We’ve been looking for community/corporate sponsorship to help cover costs and hopefully that is something that evolves further in the future so that we can continue to grow the event.
Why was it important to bring the message of the Stand Out Cup to hockey?
Hockey, like any other sport is not immune to homophobia/transphobia and I’ve experienced some fairly severe incidents of it on the field. Thankfully, they have been few and far between. Aside from preventing the large scale incidents, I think it is equally important to address the casual homophobia/transphobia that exists. This can be as simple as changing the language we use to be more inclusive. I believe this is a problem in many sports, not just hockey.
What do you hope the Stand Out Cup will achieve in the community?
I hope the Stand Out Cup contributes to raising awareness of issues surrounding homophobia/transphobia in sport. I hope that we get to a point where LGBTI participants aren’t scared of coming out and are free to be themselves within a sporting context. I guess I want to make things easier for those who might be struggling with their identity and working out where they fit in life. Sporting clubs (particularly hockey clubs!) are a fantastic way to grow as a person, provided it is a supportive environment. I guess that is what I’d like to see.