How a Phone Call from his Teammate Saved Dimitri’s Life

dimitri AFL gay prideAs the Australian Football League (AFL) prepares to hold its inaugural gay pride game this Saturday between the Sydney Swans and St Kilda Saints, a gay footballer decided that it was time to share his story with the world.

Being gay in a Greek family is often a difficult situation, leading to much heartbreak and isolation. Greek-Australian Dimitri Petrakis experienced this unfortunate cultural norm first hand.

Even as a boy from the young age of 12 Dimitri knew that he was gay, but kept it hidden from family and friends for another seven years.

When he finally did make the brave decision to tell his family he was gay he received rejection and was told “not to stay at home anymore.”

“I had to leave, which was very difficult for me because I was very close with my family,” he told Sbs.com.au.

Dimitri became depressed and very isolated as he had lost many friends and family as they refused to accept his sexuality.

“So I lost my job, got kicked out of home, lost my friends, you know, borderline suicide thoughts crossing through my mind,” the 22-year-old said.

Then one day he got a phone call from a teammate at the Bentleigh Football Club, where he first started playing with the under-16 side. Dimitri recalled the phone call and his teammate asking him “‘Where are you? We need you down here at the club.'”

When Dimitri told his teammate of everything that had happened he was simply told: “Mate, we don’t care.”

“If the footy club had not been as supportive as they were, it would have been a very different story because I was (in) a very dark place and my footy saved me,” Dimitri said.

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