The last couple of days in Melbourne and Sydney have opened up debate once again about homophobia both in sports and in politics and questions are flooding forth about just how ready we are as a society to fully accept people of all sexualities. Jason Akermanis, a footballer, wrote in his newspaper column, that gay players should stay closeted because coming out would make it a bit awkward for the straight players when they all got into the showers. Yes – that was his reasoning. As though the discomfort or otherwise of one group of players was more important than the rights of another group of players to live open and honest lives.
Former rugby player, I an Roberts, who came out at the end of his career, has written a very public reply, condemning Akermanis, highlighting the torment closeted gay people go through trying to decide whether it’s safe to come out or not. Just weeks ago, champion swimmer Daniel Kowolski came out, his story of the anguish and misery he suffered all through his swimming career moving and very sad. Both men talk about the enormous relief it has been to finally be open about who they are and that the pressure of hiding it almost destroyed them.
And just last night the news broke of a NSW government minister, David Campbell who was caught emerging from a gay sauna. The story is all about his poor wife who is recovering from cancer, and his two sons, his political career in ruins – and the secret he’s had to keep for the last twenty years. Grubby tabloid story perhaps – but the public’s interest is still there.
Why? Why does it still matter to anybody? Okay, I can get why a largely ignorant football player might think he’s in danger from a gay team mate in the showers when they’re all naked – and perhaps team management might want to discuss this with players and find out whether, after some education, there really is a problem. But this is a problem with a solution – so why are we still talking about the acceptance or otherwise of a person’s sexuality?
As far as science can tell, sexuality is determined before birth, biologically or genetically. It’s no more a choice than eye colour. Do we hate people for having brown eyes? Do we tell them they have to wear coloured lenses because people with blue eyes are afraid or feel threatened? Or do we just get the fact that some people have brown eyes and go on with our lives?
And don’t give me all that crap about god saying homosexuality is an abomination. So is eating shellfish, but gangs don’t hang outside a local fish and chip shop ready to punch anybody who buys a couple of scallops in batter. And where does that leave you if you don’t believe in a deity? How do you make sense of homophobia if you’re an atheist?
Sexuality only matters because we say it does. Unless we’re Hollywood starlets, the truth is, we don’t talk about what we do in the bedroom – regardless of whether we’re straight or otherwise. So sexuality only really matters in our lives when we’re talking about our own. So maybe it’s time to stop talking about other people’s sexuality and start minding our own business.