Why is the Thorpedo in our sights?

He graced the front page of the papers. I AM GAY writ large under a portrait photo taking up the entire page.

It made me so angry! He hadn’t actually officially come out yet. Information was leaked from his Parkinson interview and it became news.

For what must be the final time, Ian Thorpe was once again robbed of being allowed to come out in his own time, at his own pace, and in his own way. He had made his peace and decided to tell the world, and Newscorp couldn’t let that decision be his own!

I don’t think Ian Thorpe has been in an interview that lasted more than about 20 seconds that didn’t question his sexuality. And when he tells everyone that he’s straight, we instantly ignore his direct statement and run with the rumour that he’s just not ready yet.

I was “straight” until I started coming out at 17. Every time I was told or asked whether I was gay by my peers, who seemed anxious to tear me to shreds for it, I would reiterate that I was not gay, I would retreat a little further toward Narnia, a little deeper into the closet, a little more from everyone and everything. And so I have to wonder: if this wasn’t happening to Ian Thorpe when he was just 17 and the world was watching his every move, if the public hadn’t felt it had the right to demand his full disclosure of a life he might not even have understood himself, if the public hadn’t demanded he make a decision he must have felt they would then hold him to for the rest of his life…

… Would it have been as hard for him to get to self-acceptance and coming out as it was?

I didn’t tell my parents I was gay until I was 18 and out of home, let alone declare to the world “I AM GAY” on national television.

Why do we feel we have that right? Why do we feel that we own enough of Ian Thorpe’s soul that we can demand he come out when we want him to, rather than allowing him to figure himself out in his own time? Why do we feel we should ignore his right to identify as he chooses and is, a right which activists like me work towards constantly?

And why on earth do we feel we have the right to criticise him for coming out, or tell him that he didn’t struggle.

A friend sent me a screenshot which is so ugly that I can’t even pass it off as satirical.

His ‘coming out’ makes a mockery of those who had actual hardships in dealing with their sexuality and their attempts in being honest with their friends and family about this… Sometimes resulting in disowning, bashing, homelessness and even suicide.

This is a f****n’ circus and if you’re lining up to heap praise and adulation on him then you’re a joke of a human being

This person is gay. He therefore must understand at least part of what it’s like to come out. The fact that he refers to Ian’s public and national coming out with air quotes trivialises the very public journey that the Thorpedo has been on, battling depression while in the eyes of the media.

While I see a joke of a human being, it isn’t Ian Thorpe.

I’ve also seen criticism of him being paid to do the interview.
If someone offered me $400k to say something I wanted to say anyway, why would I not take it? Even more than that, Thorpe is a brand and product rolled into one. It’s not advisable to give your product away for free even if you want everyone to have it. Can we stop with the critique of interviews for $$$? They’re only interesting if they reveal a conflict of interest.

I hope never to see “I AM GAY” again on the front page of a paper – not because I don’t think Thorpe should have come out publicly – as a public figure, that was inevitable. Not even because “being gay” shouldn’t be news – though it shouldn’t. I never want to see it on a front page like that again because it will mean that some other poor soul has been subjected to the same media scrutiny that Thorpe has, and likely with the same justifications – that people have a right to know. They don’t. We actually don’t have a right to know about his private life.

Perhaps we, and the media in general, should stop acting like we do.

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