Controversy after Thorpie image used for 'Closet Party'
Talkback radio host Neil Mitchell has accused promoters behind a Melbourne queer party this weekend of ‘an absurd public insult to Ian Thorpe’ after they used an image of the swimming legend to advertise the event known as the ‘Closet Party’.
Billed as a “gay disco for Fitzroy’s fags, femmes, butches, bears, queers and queens” to be held on Friday night at Fitzroy’s First Floor nightclub, producers of the event used a black and white image of Thorpe wearing a tie and leather jacket to promote the party over social media and in at least two posters displayed on the corner of Brunswick and Leicester Streets, Fitzroy.
The 30-year-old swimmer has long been dogged by questions surrounding his sexuality ever since coming to prominence as a 14-year-old after he became the youngest ever male picked to represent Australia.
Mitchell was joined by Joy 94.9 president David McCarthy earlier today, who agreed with the host of 3AW’s high-rating Mornings program that the posters were in poor taste.
“They (the promoters) don’t realise the impact that this can have on young gay and lesbians that are wanting to come out,” McCarthy told Mitchell.
“This sort of stuff is just a gutless attack and they are just trying to generate some publicity which unfortunately that's what they are doing. I think they should be ashamed of themselves.”
It is believed promoters decided to use Thorpe’s image after calling upon followers of its Facebook page to nominate their “fav rumoured to be gay celebrity” in return for free tickets.
This Friday night’s party is the seventh time the ‘Closet Party’ has been put on since it was relaunched last July. Promoters have previously used images of actor Hugh Jackman and US talkshow host Oprah Winfrey for posters advertising their events over the past year. Earlier this month, Jackman admitted his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, was annoyed by continual gay rumours telling a US magazine – “it bugs her”.
In his biography, This is Me, released last November, Thorpe categorically denied he was gay.
“For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight,” he wrote.
In subsequent interviews, Thorpe has admitted to growing increasingly frustrated that so many people don’t believe him.
“The thing that I find hurtful about it is that people are questioning kind of my integrity and what I say,” Thorpe told ABC TV’s 7.30 program last year while promoting the book.
“That’s the only part that I find hurtful. Like is that, you know, this is something that I would be embarrassed about, that I would hide or whatever else.
“I don’t want to offend anyone that, you know, whether they’re people [who] have friends that are gay or whatever else, I don’t want to offend them by ... getting angry about it, getting frustrated about it. The only part that I’m frustrated with is that people think that I’m lying.”
Thorpe, who is considered to be the nation’s greatest Olympian having won five gold medals – the most by any Australian – is said to be in training for a planned comeback at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona after he failed to qualify for last year's London Olympics.
Promoters of ‘Closet Party’ have been contacted for comment.