Network Ten recently aired a special where swimming legend Ian Thorpe was interviewed by talk show legend Michael Parkinson, which was definitely not self-promotion and a way to boost Thorpe’s profile in the lead up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, at which Thorpe is a commentator and also happens to be on Network Ten. Oh, when did we become so cynical? One of the key reveals of the piece was Thorpe finally admitting the gay rumors that have followed him for the entirety of his career are in fact true. The Australian public was largely sympathetic and did their best to look surprised, much like when it happened with Ricky Martin (“You’re gay? Didn’t see that one coming. What’s for dinner?”) There’s something disappointing about the fact that this was trotted out as a primetime revelation, which was possible because while nobody should give a crap, people do in fact give a crap – and not always in a positive way.
When a high profile sportsman or woman comes out of the closet, it’s a piece of interesting gossip that gets the public talking – maybe in a different way to when a celebrity springs out of the closet. Thorpe mentioned that he was frightened of being honest about his sexuality for fear of losing income, which at the height of Thorpe fever was around $10 million per year, ranging from commercial endorsements to his own line of jewellery for men. Yes, it was thought that straight men wouldn’t wear a pearl necklace if it was promoted by a gay man (this article is writing itself).
It’s disheartening that Thorpe thought this way, but he probably had a point. Australia still has pockets of homophobia, but so do most developed countries and this homophobia is perhaps more pronounced in the clichéd ultra-masculine world of sports. So what is being done about homophobia in sport, and will it ever be at the point where you can take your same sex date to the footy and kiss him without the slightest concern? Hell yes… but it might take a little time.
Watch Your Language
Perhaps you already do take your date to the footy and kiss him without giving a damn, and if that’s the case – pat yourself on the back. You’re presumably self-confident, tall with enough muscles to make other guys think twice before they take you on (actually, if this accurately describes any of my readers, please send me a recent photo and your phone number c/o WeLoveDates Gay). Regardless of intent, the usage of homophobic language in relation to sports legitimizes actual homophobia which is still highly prevalent in Australian sport. So it’s time to stop that crap!
The League of Zero Tolerance (and Sexy Players)
The Australian Football League, Australian Rugby Union, National Rugby League, Football Federation Australia and Cricket Australia have come together to sign a commitment to rid their respective sporting codes of homophobia. Just think, all those sexy sweaty men telling the Australian people that homophobia, well… sucks balls. It goes beyond plans to ban homophobic language at sporting games (which is a fantastic start), and is driven by a desire to change sporting culture and to create an environment that is welcoming and encouraging, regardless of sexual orientation. Can’t stop yourself from calling a player a poofter? Bam! You’re banned for life dude! Awww… but the footy is your life and you’ve never missed a game? Tough titties, buddy.
Times, They are A-Changin’
It’s not as though everyone can sit back and do nothing while waiting for attitudes to change, but they are changing, and frankly, the homophobes can F off if they don’t like it. And with F, we mean that word that begins with F and ends with Uck. That’s right – Firetruck. Attitudes are changing, and this is wonderful. Gay marriage is becoming more and more commonplace and in many cities of the Western World, people wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a same sex couple expressing affection in public (with tongues or not). It won’t be long before two dudes holding hands at a footy game will be a non-event.
The Inspirational Side
Hopefully Ian Thorpe’s admission will encourage other closeted sportsmen and women to start living their lives more openly, which will have the trickle down effect of allowing you to take your date to the footy without any worries. Hopefully there are some young sporting talents out there that will one day soon deliver sporting performances to thrill the nation, and nobody will care if they’re gay or straight. Of course, it’s great for killing homophobia if professional athletes come out. Many athletes are rather freaking big and strong, and people are less likely to use homophobic language if their target can easily beat the crap out of them.
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