Michelle Heyman nominated for LGBTI sports personality of the year award

Canberra United co-captain Michelle Heyman. Photo: Karleen Minney
Canberra United co-captain Michelle Heyman. Photo: Karleen Minney

Michelle Heyman has always just been herself - hers is a story about self-confidence and inspiration.

The Canberra United co-captain, originally from Shellharbour, never tried to cover up who she is because she has always been so comfortable in her own skin.

Hearing a 13-year-old Queensland boy committed suicide in November after being bullied about his sexuality rocked the Matildas striker, and she is doing everything she can to help kids to "stop being scared of who they are."

Heyman is a role model in every sense of the title and is now in the running to be crowned the sports personality of the year at the first Australian LGBTI awards.

The only openly gay athlete representing Australia at the Rio Olympics, Heyman says being nominated for an award for simply being herself is "pretty incredible".

"Me being nominated for this award is one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me," Heyman said.

"I always want to be true to who I am, so me being nominated for just being myself, it's a pretty nice feeling.

"[Winning] would mean so much to me. My main focus on why I'm so comfortable with who I am is just to be able to be there for younger kids, if they are or if they are not gay, just to be comfortable with who they are.

"The reason why I am out is to just be that role model for younger children to say that it's OK to be who you are.

"If you want to continue with your passion and dreams, then you must always follow them and don't let bullying or anything like that stop who you are or what you want to achieve in life."

As a parent you would be more than happy for your child to call Heyman an idol. Catch her after Canberra United games and she is posing for countless selfies, and signing so many autographs the average person's hand would seize up.

A dazzling goal-scorer on the pitch with her last name emblazoned across her back, Heyman now sports her own line of clothing with her 'MH23' logo printed on the front.

Already comfortable in her own skin, her streetwear apparel is just another way Heyman can express herself.

Heyman admits she was "a bit worried" about what life after football would look like, but in fashion she has found something she loves.

The 28-year-old does all the orders herself, and isn't foreign to throwing in an autographed card to thank her supporters.

Next on the agenda for Heyman and the MH23 brand is a football academy and public speaking.

"I feel like I've got a good story to tell and the more people I can share my voice with, I think the better that will be for our community and other other communities as well," Heyman said.

"I'm going to commit myself to this how I commit to football and hopefully see it grow as my career did."

The Australian LGBTI awards ceremony takes place at the Sydney Opera House on March 2.

Canberra Times