Liz Santolin tried to pretend it would be okay. But the public facade would only mask private despair.
For someone struggling with their sexuality, that can be a "dangerous" place to be.
That is why the Molonglo Juggernauts, a small football club surviving on the passion of its own players and volunteers, are taking a stand.
When they step onto Stirling Oval in specially-designed jerseys to meet the ANU Griffins in round 12 of AFL Canberra's community competitions, the matches will transcend ordinary games of football.
For Santolin and her wife and teammate Hannah, it will be a chance to celebrate their marriage in a way they had never thought possible.
"I know how vulnerable you can feel when you feel like you're not normal, and it can be a really isolating place to be," Santolin said.
"It can be really dangerous if you're on your own or not feeling supported for something that is not a choice.
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"Making a space for people to come and feel like they are loved, they are accepted, they are normal and they are celebrated, that's important.
"I definitely struggled to feel like it was a normal part of life and definitely struggled to feel like I would be accepted. I, for a long time, pretended it would be fine.
"Being amongst a group of people that is able to put all of those things to the side and love you for who you are really helped me with that stuff.
"There has been times in my life when I thought I would be excluded, so to be included and celebrated is an amazing thing."
Santolin has seen all the drama surrounding disgraced rugby player Israel Folau's condemnation of homosexuals - that's why this round is important.
She has been that person, afraid of what others might think. Her teammate Gabby Summerville has seen her emotion whenever pride round is mentioned.
Summerville goes to training twice a week and turns up on game day "to have fun and feel safe", to feel included, to feel like herself.
She too has fought that internal battle, once struggling to open up to anyone beyond her closest friends about her sexuality. As hard as it once was, she needn't have worried.
"I didn't actually tell my parents, my cousin did that for me, 'thank you'," Summerville said.
"I knew they wouldn't care and they didn't, but it's scary at first. They didn't care and we didn't really speak about it again for another 12 months when I had my first girlfriend.
"They live in Newcastle and I live in Canberra, so I just rang them and said 'I've got a girlfriend'.
"It wasn't anything different. That was nice, my parents never made a big deal out of it. I didn't really come out until I was about 20."
Molonglo's pride round comes just weeks after the club hosted its first indigenous round.
Speak to those within the club and it quickly becomes clear this no one-off gesture designed to tick a box. The small Canberra club is going above and beyond to celebrate people from all walks of life.
"It's nice to have the club back you. You got to footy to have fun and feel safe, so it's good to have this day to make us feel included," Summerville said.
"You don't get that everywhere. It's nice to have a club that makes you feel like you can be yourself."
AFL CANBERRA PRIDE ROUND
Saturday: Round 12 - Women's: Molonglo Juggernauts v ANU Griffins at Stirling Oval, 10am. Fourth grade: Molonglo Juggernauts v ANU Griffins at Stirling Oval, 12pm. Third grade: Molonglo Juggernauts v ANU Griffins at Stirling Oval, 2.15pm.