It feels like Australia is exhaling today. There is no sense of shock or surprise at the news that Ian Thorpe is gay – not even mildly. What there is is a palpable sense of relief.
We are happy for him. Happy that he has finally told the truth about something most of us have suspected for a long time and surely that must be a huge burden to set down and walk away from. Not to mention the fact that, as Peter FitzSimons wrote today, the gay community now have “the greatest Australian Olympian of all time, and one of the most admired figures in the country, in their corner when it comes to fighting bigotry.” Bigotry like the homophobic tosspot who throws out vilification like “big poofta” on national television.
Ian Thorpe being gay doesn’t change his incredible sporting achievements or the magnificent philanthropic work he does in indigenous communities. It doesn’t change who his friends are or the role he will play in Australian public life. It doesn’t change the incredibly high esteem in which he is held by an entire nation. So in that way – in a positive sense – it doesn’t matter.
What matters is not having to hide who you are. What matters is gay and lesbian teenagers seeing the warmth and acceptance and joy with which Ian Thorpe’s admission is being greeted. For them to see that it won’t end his world. In fact it will open it up.
– Mia Freedman
Excerpted from "Why It Matters That Ian Thorpe Came Out"
July 13, 2014
July 13, 2014
Related Off-site Links:
Ian Thorpe, Swimming Star for Australia in Olympics, Says He is Gay – Karen Crouse (The New York Times, July 12, 2014).
Ian Thorpe Reveals He is Gay – Lisa Visentin (The Sydney Morning Herald, July 13, 2014).
Ian Thorpe Comes Out as Gay After Years of Denial – Penelope Kilby and Sally Lee (Daily Mail, July 12, 2014).
Ian Thorpe: "I'm Finally Comfortable Saying I'm a Gay Man" – Amanda Meade (The Guardian, July 13, 2014).
Who Cares If Ian Thorpe is Gay? 15-year-old Closeted Me, That's Who – Tom Ballard (The Sydney Morning Herald, July 13, 2014).
Defending Ian Thorpe: Coming Out is Never Easy, I Know – James Peron (HuffPost Gay Voices, July 13, 2014).
Breathe Out, Ian Thorpe, and Thank You – Steve Dow (The Guardian, July 13, 2014).
UPDATE: A Gay Father's Open Letter to Newly Out Ian Thorpe – Rob Watson (HuffPost Gay Voices, July 21, 2014).
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Thorpedo's "Difficult Decision"