CARLTON star Darcy Vescio says they have been "showered with love" since coming out as non-binary.
Vescio made the announcement via their social media accounts in late December, also addressing it in womens.afl's 'Unfiltered' series, and was interviewed as part of the launch of this weekend's AFLW Pride Round.
"I felt pretty fortunate to feel so safe and supported at my own club, and more broadly in the AFLW community," Vescio said.
"It's a weird thing, sharing your gender identity. It's a bit different to sexuality, often with sexuality people see it and they take it on board, rather identity is something you have to talk about if you want to be referred to as what you're most comfortable with.
"For me, it was a slow, staggered release. I started by talking to my partner, then the club welfare person, then the team more broadly. I've been showered with love to say the least, I feel so lucky to be in a space like this and around people who are totally for being yourself, and embracing who you are and celebrating who you are."
Vescio's message for fans was to continue to "create space for people" so everyone feels welcome to be who they are, whether that's at the footy or in their daily lives.
"The one message I have is to create space for people. It's really important to understand the language you use, any assumptions you might make about people and how that can impact how they live their lives," they said.
"It can be as simple as asking someone if they have a partner, rather than asking a gendered term, or not assuming people's pronouns, things like that. It's just a really nice way to create space for people and allow them to feel more comfortable."
AFL general manager of women's football Nicole Livingstone said the AFL was proud to showcase Pride Round.
"Our players and fans have been celebrating Pride in sport for a long time, and we’re thrilled to use the round to represent the diversity and acceptance we see in the modern AFLW game," Livingstone said.
AFL executive general manager for inclusion and social policy Tanya Hosch paid tribute to the work done in women's football prior to the introduction of the AFLW.
FULL STATEMENT AFLW Pride Round celebrations begin
"This is the second year we have formally celebrated Pride Round across the women’s competition. We are certain we would not be in a position to hold the round without the years of work done and still pursued by the trailblazers of our game to create inclusivity, visibility and awareness for the LGBTIQA+ communities," Hosch said.
"The AFL is actively building our understanding of what it means to be inclusive in partnership with people across the spectrum of the code and with great generosity of players, officials, staff and fans. We are supported by many community leaders and by Pride in Sport, who are specifically designed to assist sporting organisations at all levels with the inclusion of employees, athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators with diverse sexualities and genders."
To help mark Pride Round, field and boundary umpires will wear rainbow sweatbands, with goal umpires waving rainbow flags instead of their usual white pair.
The NAB AFLW logo will turn from coral to rainbow, with the 50m arc also painted in rainbow.
Thirteen AFLW teams will wear pride jumpers – with West Coast wearing a pride training singlet during the week – with some clubs also opting to wear their pride jumpers the following round when back on their home ground.
Brisbane has already announced its pride jumper will double as its away jumper for the entire season.
The AFL has also partnered with the National Gallery of Victoria, supporting its upcoming Queer exhibition, which will run from March to August and celebrate queer history and untold stories in its collection of work
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