Queer Footballers Dominate Disney+’s “Matildas: The World at Our Feet”

Feature image photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images

Halfway through the first episode of Disney+’s Matildas: The World at Our Feet, my wife walked into the living room and I was crying so hard that she rushed over, wrapped me up in her arms, and demanded to know who had hurt my feelings. I pointed at the TV, which was paused on a shot of the first USWNT vs. Australia friendly from November 2021. My wife squinted at the screen and then looked back at me, still furiously swiping at my tears, and said, “Why are you upset? We won this game 3-0.” But I wasn’t crying because of competition; I was crying because of sportsmanship. Because Disney has released a six-part documentary series following the Matildas, the Australian Women’s National Team, on their quest to win a FIFA Women’s World Cup this July, in their home country, and the whole thing is just so very gay. Because I can’t believe it exists.

Matildas opens on a whole gaggle of little girls playing soccer, running and sliding and striking and diving, hugging and cheering and looking right at the camera saying that when they grow up, they want to be Sam Kerr. And of course they do: she’s one of the greatest soccer players in history, and certainly the greatest Australian soccer player ever (no gender qualifications!). It’s Sam Kerr jerseys and Sam Kerr cheers and fans of all genders and all ages talking about how proud they are that she’s a Matilda. And then we’re in USWNT midfielder Kristie Mewis’ kitchen, where Sam’s making her breakfast because her girlfriend’s out at practice. The two world class athletes have been together for a long time now; even if you don’t watch soccer, you know them as “They’re lesbians, Stacey!” I wondered if Matlidas was going to go there, and they did, without reservation. You get to know the Sam behind the superstar as she sits on the couch beside Kristie and fidgets, while her partner talks about how wonderful she is.

And that’s only the start of it. Over the course of six episodes, Matlidas tackles the triumph of being both a mom and soccer star, focusing on midfielder Tameka Yallop and her wife, former New Zealand star Kirsty Yallop, as they parent their adorable daughter, Harley, during Matildas training camp. But the most emotional gayness comes when forward Emily Gielnik — who has been with her partner, Temica Sayer, for eight years — talks about why she stayed in the closet so long. “My mum being Croatian, being gay was frowned upon,” she explains. “So I never saw how I was going to come out and tell my family. I tried everything to live this lie for years. There was a lot of dark times.” She credits her queer teammates, and the unconditional acceptance they were shown by their straight teammates, for finally giving her the courage to live her truth. “To be honest, if I didn’t have football, I don’t really know what other outlet I would have had. The Matildas is a support system around everyone being equal and open, and I finally realized: you love who you love.”

One of the over-arching themes of Matildas is just how damn proud everyone in Australia is of this team, and how important it is to every woman on the roster to reach as many little girls as possible. Because, as the great Viola Davis says: “You need to see a physical manifestation of your dream!” These Matildas — The Golden Generation, they’re called — grew up without any professional Australian women’s soccer players to root for, and they’re determined to be the heroes they needed as kids. To pave the way for more generations of women athletes.

Matildas: The World at Our Feet is kind of for everyone. Fans who want to get ready for the World Cup, people who like sports, queers parents and queer athletes and queer dreamers, anyone who loves to watch powerful women do their thing, and lovers of love. It doesn’t even matter if the Matildas are your team — because one of the best takeaways is that our team, us queers, we’re the ones who are winning.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Thank you for writing this! The Matildas are my team, in the sense that I’m Australian and have seen them play multiple times, so I was already excited for this series but the casual inclusion of so many queer couples genuinely made me want to cry. Being gay was so normalised that it almost felt like a jump scare when someone had a male partner lol

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