Does coming out still matter?

Does coming out still matter?

Before I give you my thoughts on this issue, may I wish Ian Thorpe all the best in the future and honour him for his decision to be true to himself. In spite of all the media attention over the ‘revelation’ in the interview with Sir Michael Parkinson, I know he will find a greater sense of peace in himself.

That said I really believe a person’s private life is exactly that, private, but seeing Ian has previously stated he’s ‘heterosexual’ I think it was important he decided to be honest. This matters not only for his own sense of wellbeing, but also to countless other young gay and lesbian people who might now find the courage to no longer live a life in the shadows.

I have been in Ian’s shoes. Back in 2004 when I began working on the nationally syndicated 2DayFM drive show I was asked by the hosts if I was happy to be “myself” on-air. At first I had no idea what this really meant, then it dawned on me that if they were talking about what they did on the weekend with their partners, I would have to be open about my life with Jason too.

So, the following day hundreds of thousands got to hear about my relationship with Jason. The impact of that hit me the following week when a newspaper published an article about me being the first openly gay newsreader on Australian radio!

I became known across the country as Geoff on radio, “the gay newsreader”.

To be honest, although I had my reservations I’m glad I did all that because back in 2004 being gay was rarely mentioned on-air. Coming out helped change that. It meant that being gay was not something to be hidden from the public. In fact Jason and I decide to get married on national TV and radio in an effort to highlight the discrimination that we still face. This was a catalyst for the now thriving Marrriage Equality campaign.

My coming out has been a profound and exciting journey.

You might well ask what I make of “the gay newsreader” label? At the time I was fine with it, however 10 years later I think it’s time for society to move on. Being gay is part of who I am, it’s not a label. In a perfect world it would be nice to think that after Ian’s interview there is no need for people to announce that they were gay. My dream is to live in a world where people are people and not labelled by their sexuality.

Sadly there is still a lot of homophobia in the world and it’s not always easy for people in the LGBTI community to be completely honest about their sexuality, but I believe Ian Thorpe has helped break down barriers by being true to himself and showing people there is nothing to be ashamed of.

In the end if we all just respected our differences this whole subject will be redundant.

 

gay-marriage-wiwp-geoff-628Campaigning for marriage equality.

10 Comments

  1. “Respect our differences”…you said it. Differences should not be “tolerated” but accepted through a show of respect.
    Loved the interview, all of it. I hope Ian can lend his persona to the “Recognise” movement for Indigenous Australians.

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  2. How times have changed. In the heyday of my own career, way back in the 70’s & early 80’s, it was impossible to come out, especially where most of my own success was based, in the USA. Selfishly, I wish I’d had an icon and national treasure like Ian Thorpe to pave the way so my own life might have been less tortured by the same demons Ian has suffered. The young people struggling with their own sexuality right now may see this interview as a watershed moment, and take heart from it. I applaud Ian his integrity and honesty in this great interview, and I truly hope in my heart it lets him get on with his life the way he wants it to unfold. Not just a champion swimmer, but a great bloke. All we can hope, is the pernicious reptiles of the press leave him alone to do so.

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  3. Spot on Geoff, we all need to accept each other, but there are still a lot of homophobic people out there.

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  4. I stand and applaud Thorpie in reference to him openingly talking about depression etc.
    I have to admit at first I brushed off the interview as ‘boring’ etc.
    Then like a lightening bolt within my somewhat quick to judge train of thought. I pictured the faces of my four friends that took their own life’s this year. Each battling demons they felt they couldn’t talk about.
    If this interview can help just one person then all the power to Ian.

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  5. Years back there were many rumors that Jason Donovan was Gay. Ironically it was the Gay community that wouldn’t accept the fact that he was telling us he was straight. He had to threaten legal action towards a Gay newspaper before people started accepting his truth. I recalled thinking at the time, I was harassed really badly at school for being Gay and now there was an element of Gay society harassing Jason.
    Tonight upon hearing Ian Thorpe deciding to choose this time to come out reminded me of that time with Jason. Facebook is a wash with heaps of people tonight saying I knew he was Gay. I ask, did you really know or did you assume like those who assumed I was when at school. It’s one thing to come out to a small select group of people in my own time as I did, however if you are a household name like Thorpie where everyone has an opinion, it’s a brave move.
    Congratulations Ian Thorpe for your courage and good luck and best wishes for your forward journey.

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  6. Well done Geoff. I think people have forgotten how intolerant the world used to be. I was thinking today about Ellen DeGeneres – everyone loves her today, but they’ve forgotten what happened when she came out – her sitcom was cancelled and she couldn’t work in Hollywood for love or money until she did Finding Nemo and everyone rembered how funny and sweet she is. Yes, she’s one of Hollywood’s big players these days, but people forget the struggle she had to get there. My stepdad who used to be horribly homophobic is now a staunch supporter (my two besties who were gay I feel also helped in his shift in ideology). And you, in your everyday job discussing your everyday life in a gay relationship helped too. I used to be a rarity – a supporter of gay rights because my besties were gay. Now I’m part of a majority. And it’s brave people like you and Ellen that have helped make that happen!!!

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  7. Wow Geoff good point made on how this label has made you feel. Thanks for sharing. Everyone’s given you that 2dayfm label but not hearing what you thought about it. No ones ever asked about your feelings on that title.
    Very interesting read and so true it’s 2014 was this interview with IT on his sexuality really necessary ?

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  8. Sadly, at this stage “coming out” is still a thing. We are not there yet….
    The pioneers like you, Geoff, have done the hard yards. God bless you for having whatever it took to do it. I see the benefits that are there for the individual (ie the truth setting you free etc), but at this point in time, it should still also be considered a generous act.
    It is wonderful that Thorpe has finally taken the step. I feel happy for him, that he can finally “breathe out”.
    With each new individual person in the media doing the same, it will just become easier and easier over the years, until the tipping point is reached, where it will be so commonplace that it will finally be considered a bit of a non-story.
    At this time in the future, we should also be living with marriage equality and a reduction in LGBT youth suicide and depression rates etc. Bring it on, and stat.
    Sadly, judging by the number of Hollywood’s leading men who feel the need to stay in the closet, we still have a while to go.
    I did have the thought that I wish everyone could be paid $400,000 to come out, though:)

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  9. Well said Geoff. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am pleased Ian Thorpe has finally come out and I wish him well. I can only hope that much good will come of this, now that the lie has ended, and LGBT kids have another great achiever to look up to as they deal with their own coming out issues.

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  10. Geoff, what a wonderful blog. I had tears all the way through (happy tears of Joy!)your personal story really hit home to me and I always wondered how you felt about being labelled as ‘Geoff the gay newsreader’ as if you were a freak of sorts. I thought that your then cohorts were behind it and won’t speculate that any further for legal reasons. I was so proud of you and Jason having your wedding (albeit sadly not legally recognised) and can’t wait until the day that you both do it legitimately and I will be your best woman (if I am fortunate enough to be so) and I wish Ian all the greatest romantic success now that he will no longer be questioned, which I am sure has removed a HUGE weight from his shoulders and shine through with that gorgeously twinkling smile of his. Bless you all and keep up the wonderful fight for same sex marriage and for equal rights for LGBTI people.

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