Having watched the Michael Parkinson interview with Ian Thorpe tonight, I can honestly say that my opinion of him has changed dramatically and I am ashamed of my past opinions of him.
The moment that ‘Thorpey’ swallowed and revealed that he was, indeed, gay was gut-wrenchingly sad but the relief that I felt and perhaps a lot of other people felt too was palpable. To be a 31 year old man and only just admit to yourself that you are gay and to come out to your friends and family is something I cannot begin to imagine doing, but it was more than that. It was the way that he revealed that he has only just admitted to himself, let alone anyone else, that he was in fact a gay man. Two weeks ago.
After discussing his battles with depression and the succinct way that he was able to translate the struggles that many with depression must face everyday it seemed that the question of his orientation was inevitable and, more than likely, set-up for this interview. Regardless of the set-up, the money or the ratings that his interview received it is one of the more powerful pieces of TV I have seen in a long time.
I purposely watched this with my two sons. They are 12 and 10 and have no idea who Ian Thorpe is. They were riveted to the TV for the first 45 minutes of the interview and to hear my 12 year old ask, “Why would someone ask someone else if they’re gay?” was refreshing to hear. Such a perfect question from an innocent child and one that gives us hope for the future.
In the past I, like probably a lot of Australians, have watched as Thorpey has appeared to self destruct. Quitting swimming early, drinking, doing terrible TV shows and all the while secretly being discussed behind closed doors about his apparent sexuality like we’re all experts on the issue. I’m guilty of this with him and others and I feel a bit crap about it. It doesn’t matter what any of us think about someone else’s sexuality. It is up to that individual and their own decisions. If they don’t want to mention it, or reveal it they shouldn’t have to.
The interview tonight really made me remember that everyone is human, even a seemingly superhuman fish creature like Ian Thorpe.
Well done to him and to anyone that has the courage to move forward in life in their own way.