Adelaide Crows AFLW star Chelsea Randall has opened up on coming out to her family in her late teens, revealing she broke down in tears while telling her father driving down a freeway.
Randall, who has been in a relationship with teammate Marijana Rajcic for more than 18 months, is the AFLW’s most courageous player, but her fierce on-field demeanour belies a sensitive, thoughtful woman underneath.
The 31-year-old has become a vocal advocate for gay rights despite initially being hesitant to share her sexuality openly – something many female athletes experience for fear of facing abuse or stereotyped.
It was a desire to be a role model for young, gay women that led to her sharing her journey in a bid to improve mental health outcomes and suicide rates for the LGBTQI+ community.
Chelsea Randall (right) and partner Marijana Rajcic, both playing AFLW footy for the Crows. Randall has opened up about coming out as gay in her late teens
Randall and Rajcic attend the AFLW Awards in April. The teammates have won two premierships together
Randall, who is very close to her family, said she found it extremely difficult coming out to her father, Brett, in particular.
She revealed she tried to tell him in person, before driving away. He rang her, with an inkling something was going on, before Randall burst into tears driving down a freeway.
‘Dad, I think I like girls. I hope you still love me … I haven’t changed as a person,’ she told podcast The Soda Room.
Chelsea Randall has revealed that she burst into tears when she came out to her father – who was incredibly supportive
Randall, partner Rajcic and her father Brett enjoying some happy times recently
She needn’t have worried.
Brett was incredibly supportive, and is often seen on social media with Randall and Rajcic.
Randall said she also found it difficult telling her brother, Scott.
Again, she needn’t have worried.
‘You tosser, of course, I love you. I’ve already known for years,’ Randall laughs, describing her brother’s reaction to her coming out.
Marijana Rajcic (left) and Chelsea Randall (right) pose for a photo with the premiership cup after their 2022 AFLW Grand Final win over the Demons
Unfortunately, coming out to family, friends and the public, for those in the spotlight, isn’t often such a positive experience.
Some people can be disowned by the family, or worse.
Abuse on social media, which can perpetuate the derogatory ‘dyke’ stereotypes, is often a reality for those in the spotlight, like Randall.
Which is exactly why she wanted to stand up and share the intimate details of her life.
‘Some of my friends were kicked out of homes, left on a street. Some abused,’ Randall said of other’s experiences coming out as gay.
Chelsea Randall (left) and Marijana Rajcic (right) can often be seen showering each other with affection on social media
‘It’s really quite a difficult situation a lot of young people are trying to find their identity. And sometimes society just makes it hard for them to be themselves.’
Fortunately in Randall’s case, she obviously has a supportive family.
She also has an incredibly supportive partner, who uniquely understands the tricky demands of navigating sexuality in the public eye.
Randall and Rajcic publicly revealed they were in a relationship after competing together on popular reality show The Amazing Race.
Chelsea Randall with dogs Lenny and Koda – who live with her and Rajcic
While many had known about the two teammates behind the scenes, Randall revealed at the time she didn’t want them to compete as ‘girlfriends’ on the race and place more pressure on the burgeoning relationship.
It was on the show viewers saw how well the pair were matched, with Randall’s thoughtful nature perfectly counterbalancing Rajcic’s more fiery, passionate side.
The pair are often showing how loved-up they are on social media, with Randall writing ‘I love doing life with you’ on a recent post celebrating Rajcic’s birthday.
Randall was previously engaged to Roxy Logereau, before the pair split several years ago.
Chelsea Randall attends the premiere of ‘Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW’ last week
Since moving across from her native Western Australia prior to the AFL’s inception, Randall has captained the Crows to three premierships, been voted by her peers as ‘Most Courageous’ in the league on three occasions and is also a three-time All Australian.
The star centre half back can often be seen flying into packs with little regard for her own personal safety, and was one of the AFLW’s original marquee players when it began in 2017.
Randall described a tough beginning to life as an Aussie Rules player.
The only girl in a boys competition as an 11-year-old, Randall said the opposition laughed at her prior to a game, which led to her own team being embarrassed that she was in their side.
‘It’s bringing me emotion just thinking about it. Sport should just be for anyone and everyone, and to not feel welcomed, or treated the same, when all I wanted to do was just play, was hard for a young girl,’ she said.
Chelsea Randall celebrates with Crows fans after winning the 2019 AFLW premiership with Adelaide
It was Randall who had the last laugh, though, tackling the opposition player who was showing the most disrespect firming into the ground and earning a free kick.
‘Let that be a statement, I’m here to stay and I want to play just like you guys,’ Randall said of the triumphant moment.
The 2022 AFLW season is set to begin this Thursday, August 25, when Carlton take on Collingwood.
The Crows, looking for back-to-back premierships, will face a strong Demons side in Adelaide in a blockbuster Friday night clash.