Aussie Soccer Player Michelle Heyman On Why It’s Important to Embrace Your True Self

Michelle Heyman

Australia celebrated pride over the weekend with a spectacular parade for the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras at Sydney’s SCG. To coincide with the annual event, five street art installations were unveiled across Australia—celebrating some of Australia’s top LGBTQ+ creators.

Popping up in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne, each mural highlighted local ‘Rising Heroes’ from the queer community on Instagram and a QR code was included on each artwork, which took viewers to the ‘Safe & Strong 2021’ Safety and Wellbeing Guide for the LGBTQ+ Community on Facebook and Instagram.

The social media platform partnered with LGBTQ+ creators including musicians Troye Sivan and Cub Sport, Indigenous drag performer Felicia Foxx, trans model AJ Clementine, comedian Jeff van de Zandt, and Olympian Michelle Heyman.

To mark the occasion, POPSUGAR Australia spoke with Heyman, whose mural was made to “inspire others to live as their true selves”.

“I feel honoured. I feel happy. I feel proud,” Heyman said during the interview. “It’s pretty special to be the Canberra representative because this place has always welcomed me as my true self, and now to be celebrated quite literally in the streets — there is no feeling like it.”

The 32-year-old, who is married to Christine Aldridge, said she is “lucky” to not have had many challenges growing up as a gay woman.

“I’ve been really lucky to have been accepted from the beginning,” Heyman admitted. “I’ve never faced any challenges and I have all the men and woman that fought for a queer voice before me to thank for that.”

Heyman is an Australian W-League football star, currently playing for Canberra United. As part of having such a distinguished platform, she works tirelessly to spread a message of inclusivity and self-love, encouraging diversity and self-acceptance in sport.

“Being an athlete in the public eye is an incredible responsibility as a role model and mentor to the younger generations,” she said. “Instagram lets me show off my beautiful life as it is, no censorship, just straight love. I think it’s really important to embrace who you are and share that voice with others because it encourages everyone to be a little more open and authentic with the world.”

As for those who may be struggling to find acceptance, Heyman has some advice.

“I think it’s good to find that one person you know you can talk to, someone that cares. You don’t have to tell the world all at once! Go at your own pace, everyone has a different journey. You might be surprised at the response — times are changing and more often than ever before, the people that love you just want you to be happy. Love is love. It goes both ways.”

Check out Michelle Heyman’s mural, created by artist Megan Hales at 16 Bunda St, Canberra.

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