I cannot let this week go by without putting some words down about Ian Thorpe. We managed to miss the interview with Michael Parkinson (shown on Australian TV Sunday night), but I read the transcript earlier today. I’ve not seen any media coverage of it, as in TV coverage, but there is a lot of commentary in the paper this morning and even more online that I’ve flicked through. Some of the comments I’ve read, make me ashamed to be human.
Hubs and I were listening to the radio yesterday (Sunday) morning before the interview even aired, where they were talking about the interview and how the media, particularly in Australia, have to wear some of the blame, specifically around how Ian Thorpe was portrayed in the media and how being gay would have had an impact on his image. What the actual *insert expletive of choice here. It was an interesting discussion to listen to, the pundit was ashamed of the media. Voicing his concern that someone who was seen as an Aussie icon can’t be gay.
How can you apportion blame? The media certainly hound famous people and their families. But then they also hound teachers, doctors, anyone they can find in an attempt to bring shame on people for loving who they love or just being attracted to who they are attracted to. It is well recognised that there is a scale of sexuality; first developed by Kinsey, ranging from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual. Since Kinsey’s pioneering work, every shade in between the two has been filled in as well as people identifying as asexual, not interested at all. Most of us will move up and down the scale through their lives, being in a state of flux; many of us are very aware of our orientation, some of us never know, nor neither care. But how many people pick up a magazine to read the salacious gossip about celebrities, gossip about co-workers, gossip about school friends, stir, stir, stir.
Who cares, really and in the grand scheme of things? If I did care about the sexuality of someone else, does it have any impact on my life? No. Unless I want to interact with them in a sexual way, it has no bearing on my life at all. Goodness knows there are a million and one reasons why people don’t want to interact with anyone else sexually; what gender they feel comfortable being could be the least of them! We should all be free to live our lives authentically, freely and openly.
But despite it being 2014, so many people can’t. So many people have to hide, lie, pretend, live in shame. Because they’re abused, verbally and physically for being who they are.
I’m still processing the coverage of this, not the actual announcement. I am more cross and frustrated that for years someone has had the weight of this on their shoulders, all because he is an icon. Let us just stand up and roar for the achievements of one of the greatest sportsman the world has ever seen, let us just support him for who he is, admire him for what he’s done. I’m proud of Ian Thorpe. But ashamed that he thought about telling everyone before the Sydney Olympics, but couldn’t. He said that he wasn’t brave enough to speak out. He wasn’t allowed to live the life he should have been allowed to live, for at least fourteen years, because he was the poster boy of the sport I also gave up my childhood to and he was an icon.
noun: icon; plural noun: icons;
1. a devotional painting of Christ or another holy figure, typically executed on wood and used ceremonially in the Byzantine and other Eastern Churches.
2. a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.
I think Charlie Pickering put it best on Twitter. So Ian Thorpe is our most successful gay swimmer. Or as I like to say our most successful swimmer.