The Curious Case of Ian Thorpe
We’re all to blame for making Ian Thorpe's coming out that much harder. Now it's time we rallied behind him, writes Troy Chiodo-Gurr.
“It looks like Ian Thorpe is gay,” my partner told me on Sunday morning from behind his computer screen.
“What makes you say that?” I asked.
“Well,” he said. “He just screwed you.”
Yep, sure enough, less than 24 hours after I’d posted my full-throated defense of his heterosexuality and right to privacy, the internet was awash with the negotiated leak that Thorpe’s Parkinson interview that night would include the admission that he was gay. I looked like an idiot.
This wasn’t the first time that this had happened to me. Many years back, I’d defended Anthony Callea, and we all know how that turned out. Despite confirmation from countless sources that he was gay, I’d refused to let gossip about his sexuality make it’s way into the paper. In fact, I actually stopped letting him into the paper at all. After Sony Music had asked me to run a second cover story I turned them down, saying it went against the tenets of a gay newspaper to promote a closeted artist. The Rep said she understood, and thanked me for my time. Four weeks after I’d left the paper, Callea came out in the Herald Sun. You’d have thought I would have learnt not to put myself between the public and a personality.
Above: Anthony Callea
Ironically, this is what I’d argued in my original post. Just as Thorpe said in his interview regarding his career not being his own, that it belonged to other people, so too had his sexuality become public property, and weighing in was none of my business. He didn’t ask for my two cents. I voluntarily stuck my nose in, we all did, where it didn’t belong. And we’re all to blame for making his coming out that much harder.
Everyone comes out at their own pace, and this was his. Before we deride him (or worse, tag him as a gay icon before he’s even agreed to the gig), take a listen to what he says. Anything sound familiar? Any of his words ring a bell? Any parts of his personal struggle strike a little close to home? We’ve all been there. We’ve all gone through it ourselves. And our reaction – the public’s reaction – isn’t that dissimilar from that of our own family and friends when we finally came clean. If anything, it should make us more forgiving our own friend’s and family’s reactions when we came out.
Above: Ian Thorpe (right) comes out as gay during a televised interview with Sir Michael Parkinson
Thorpe’s got a whole lot of ugly coming his way over the next days, weeks and months. The ‘brave’ headlines are already being replaced by reports of the significant paycheck he received for the revelation ($400,000, according to some reports – man, if I’d known there was money in it, I never would have come out for free!). And it’s only a matter of time the religious fringe dwellers weigh in.
So we need to do what we’d do for any other gay man or woman, what I had wished we had done in my first article, even when I thought he was straight. We stand beside and in front of him and assure him we have his back.