Ian Thorpe – time to start living and enjoying it

According to press reports this morning, Ian Thorpe is ‘coming out’ as gay in an interview with Sir Michael Parkinson, to be aired on Channel 10 this evening, Australian time.

While I’m happy for Thorpey that he’s finally managed to come to terms with the idea of not trying to hide it anymore, I’m also angry at him for hiding it for so long. And I’ve had to work out why I’m angry. Hell, he’s nothing to do with me. His sexuality is definitely none of my business and has no impact on my life whatsoever. Yet I feel really irritated that he has:

  1. denied it for so long, and 
  2. made a conscious decision to finally admit to the truth.

And that, ladies and gentleman, was when I realised why I was so cranky about all this. It’s that truth thing again. Embrace the truth and it shall set you free. I mean, he’s not a mass murderer, he’s not an armed robber, he’s not a drug dealer, and as far as I know, he hasn’t done anything to warrant being charged with any offence that we could condemn him for. He’s just gay.

Here’s a very short list of gay people who are household names across the world:

  • Sir Elton John (note the knighthood – being gay really held him back, didn’t it?)
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Sir Ian McKellen (another knight)
  • Stephen Fry (who I am sure will also get a knighthood one day)
  • Martina Navratilova
  • Jodie Foster
  • Ian Roberts (they don’t come much tougher than Ian!)

I could keep listing for days – there are so many high profile LGBT people out there in sport, entertainment, business and the world in general. And plenty, plenty more who aren’t in the public eye.

So Thorpey should have been on the list years ago.Why did he think he was so special that anyone would give a damn? Seriously Ian? Get over yourself.

But then …

Speculation on sporting shows this morning suggest that his reticence to be honest about his sexuality may have been due to sponsorship and other commercial deals, that the markets where Thorpey was promoting products wouldn’t have been happy to find out that they had a gay man as the face of their products. If that’s the case, then where were Ian’s closest advisors? Where were the ones he could trust? And who made the most money out of him keeping his mouth shut? I bet it wasn’t Ian.

But if it was his choice to keep quiet so that he could make the most of his commercial opportunities, then it’s no wonder he suffered from depression. When you can’t live your life openly and honestly, you will become depressed, and you will risk turning to alcohol and other suppressants to help you cope. Don’t blame the swimming – blame the lying. Putting your bank account before your mental health will nearly always lead to mixed feelings, particularly if, underneath it all, you’re basically a ‘good’ person; and I’ve always had the feeling that Thorpey is a ‘good’ person. You never hear of him behaving or speaking the way some of our less mature ambassadors do. But he has certainly been ill-advised in this area.

Ladies and gentlemen, the best gift you can give your children is the ability to embrace the truth at all times. To ‘own’ the very essence of their beings, their decisions, their mistakes. Yes, there will be the odd occasion in life when we need to be discreet to prevent others from being hurt, but on the whole, living as honestly as we can is the key to good mental health. Keeping quiet about the very essence of ourselves is ridiculous – it’s extremely damaging, and the foundation for a fractured and fragile existence.

As most commentators seem to be saying today, it’s about time Ian Thorpe came out, and let’s hope that his life is happier from now on – he’s the sort of bloke that we all want to see happy.

But boy, what a waste of possibly 15 happy years. What could he have achieved had he let himself be free to be who he really is?

Here’s hoping this intelligent, attractive, creative, warm-natured, talented and hard-working young man can make up for lost time. Go Thorpey, go!

One Reply to “Ian Thorpe – time to start living and enjoying it”

  1. When Ian Thorpe was born, sexual acts between men were illegal. They remained illegal on Australian soil until he was 15 years old, about the time he would have become aware of his sexual attraction. Not without impact on young gay men at the time, HIV/AIDS was still a death sentence tearing a hole in a generation of gay men and their families. Apart from Ian Roberts, all the men on your list of admirable LGBT people came out in a country which decriminalised male gay activity in 1969. Ian Roberts came out at the age of 30, a tad younger than Ian Thorpe is today. Jodie Foster came out at age 50, so Thorpe is not doing too badly, although the women on your list never lived under laws which could have seen them arrested and incarcerated for their sexual preference. Australians have always had a particular wish for gay men to just live a lie, and then exhibit an arrogant bluster when we come out, because you feel lied to. We’re damned if we don’t and damned when we do. The irritation you feel today is a drop in the ocean compared to the turmoil closeted LGBT face. The problem, I suspect, was in the world Thorpe grew up in, from his family to his early communities. They’ll be in the next phase of denial now that he’s out … Aussie families love their gay sons single (and lonely) when they come out, because what will they tell the neighbours if Thorpie manifests a gay relationship??? This goes waaaaaaaay beyond your irritation, Jennifer, it’s fabric of society stuff.

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