Ian Thorpe is a five time gold medal winning swimmer from Australia. And today, we also learned that Ian Thorpe is homosexual. This apparently ends years of speculation by journalists about Thorpe’s sexual orientation. The revelation came in an interview with British talk show host Michael Parkinson which was then broadcast on an Australian television station. This comes on the heels of former University of Missouri football player Michael Sam’s announcement that is he gay. Sam was recently drafted by the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League and was the first openly gay player drafted into that league.
In the interview, Thorpe discusses how he took a defensive attitude about his homosexuality, working at all costs to hide it, and denying he was homosexual. I found Thorpe’s reasons for hiding his orientation to be very dismaying. The following is taken from an ESPN article which you can read here:
Part of his reluctance to come out, he said, was fear of letting his family and his fans down.
“I wanted to make my family proud. I wanted to make my nation proud of me. And part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay,” he said. “But I’m telling not only Australia, but I’m telling the world, that I am.”
It is very disturbing and sad that any individual would feel they would let their family, friends, and as applicable, fans, down because of their sexual orientation. Even sadder is the society we live in that has created these very real perceptions. That someone would feel ashamed for so long of who they are pains me. I have always lived by the creed that as long as you are not hurting anyone else or yourself, then you should be allowed to be who you are and live as you please. My hope is that in the very near future, these announcements, or more so “admissions” of being homosexual, no longer exist. Why do I say “no longer exist?” Because our society would be accepting that sexual orientation has no bearing on who that person is at the core, much less someone’s ability to perform their job or excel in sports. And frankly, it wouldn’t matter in the same regard as our religious beliefs, our marital status, or the color of our skin matter in defining who we are, our personality, or our abilities.
Our sexual orientation is part of who we are but it doesn’t define who we are. Not one aspect of our life or our personality defines who we are. Instead, in totality, all of the aspects of our life and personality define who we are. For an individual to think that they might be perceived differently, and negatively, because they are homosexual is unfortunate.
While I realize this is a “story” and Thorpe is a celebrity, which creates ratings, I’m left to wonder how Thorpe’s announcement affected those journalists whom have sought this information for so many years. Did it change your opinion of his swimming ability? Did it make him a better swimmer? Worse? If you have met him personality, does it make him lesser of a person? More of a person? For the people whom I have known that told me they were homosexual, it changed nothing. They were always the same people to me whether they were heterosexual or homosexual. I didn’t really care cause it really didn’t matter. Hopefully others will begin to feel that way and these announcements will no longer be news because someone’s sexual orientation will no longer be a piece of interest to society.