I once went swimming at a surf beach in south-east Australia. A strong swimmer in the pool, my experience in surf was limited, but it was a hot day and I thought a little body surfing was in order. For the first fifteen minutes, it was great fun, but then an enormous wave smacked into me. Without having a chance to grab a breath, I was unceremoniously shoved under, rolled around and around in a maelstrom of black, sandy, foamy water until I had no idea which way was up and which down. With my lungs bursting for air, I lashed out with my feet, hoping they’d would find the sandy bottom and propel me to the surface. My head spinning, I shot upwards to the surface, gasping in a breath just in time.
Being made redundant from my job of six years felt horribly similar.
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.
A few years ago, when I finished reading Ffyona Campbell’s amazing account of her trek from the very bottom of the African continent to the top, On Foot Through Africa, I made the mistake of raving about it to a friend. Ffyona walked around the world, over a period of 11 years, breaking almost all the records men had previously set. My friend’s response was, “What’s the point?”
Jessica Watson sails home