Until Day 13 of the London Olympic Games, Ian Thorpe had won more gold medals in his career than his entire nation had managed at London 2012. Yet for some strange reason we treat Thorpe like we’ve forgotten he was a superstar of the pool just over a decade ago. I’m also baffled as to why Channel Nine chose Grant Hackett, who has not been short of a scandal in recent memory, to host the swimming commentary with NRL legend, Ray Warren. What is wrong with the Thorpedo? Is this just another case of tall poppy syndrome?
I was pleased to read that Thorpe has been busy winning millions of fans for his role as an Olympic commentator on the BBC. It was his medal success that attracted the British television network, who hired him as a swimming pundit. And good for him – our loss is Britain’s gain as far as I’m concerned. Australians love to hate Ian Thorpe. Whether it’s his interest in high fashion (Thorpe is a good friend of the Italian designer, Armani), his jewellery line or his highest-selling sports drinks in Japan. Actually until yesterday I had no idea Thorpe even made energy drinks. He is definitely one of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs, gliding easily from a stellar swimming career to a first-class businessman.
Perhaps one of the reasons Thorpe has been successful overseas is because he is tired of the way the Australian media treats him. Anyone who reads the news would think we don’t host one of the most sexually liberal events in the world, the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Yet we treat this man, who has represented our country and delivered under enormous pressure at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, like he is a liar, a fraud and not worthy of being an Australian.
Ian Thorpe has been plagued by homosexual rumours for nearly a decade. In a recent interview with Harry Wallop of the Telegraph in London, he is told not to ask about Thorpe’s sexuality. He does anyway.
“What I don’t like is that people think I’m being dishonest. That’s what’s so hurtful in all this. I don’t live my life as an open book, but what I do say, I don’t retract. That is me.”
I think two things here. Firstly, just because Ian Thorpe has led his country to victory during our home Olympic Games gives us no right to hassle this man who has stated over and over again that he is not homosexual. Not that it’s any of our business – he doesn’t need to “come out” to Australia as gay, straight, bisexual or asexual – his life is his life. It doesn’t affect us. Move on.
Secondly, since when did homosexuality become so focused on stereotypes? Just because Thorpe enjoys wearing fashion which he states is a style thing rather than being fashion conscious or fashion forward, suddenly he’s gay because he dresses himself well. I get told quite regularly “oh, but you don’t look like a lesbian”. I politely nod and think okay so if I dress more like a dyke will I be taken more seriously? Thorpe should be allowed to dress however he likes as a heterosexual male and I should be able to wear a dress, heels and red lippy without the stereotypical questions.
Thorpe is not homosexual, I am assured, but this will not stop people on the internet speculating about his svelte looks, cultured interests and friendships.
“I tick all the boxes,” he admits. “There is no way I can answer this. It really has just got to the stage when I say ‘whatever’. It’s not a big deal for me. It doesn’t impact on my life what people think”
And nor should it.
Why do you think the media hounds celebrities to be open and honest about every detail of their lives? Do you think sportspeople and celebrities alike should live their lives as an open book if they are in a public eye?
Rose Russo has written 56 posts.
Rose is a freelance writer, blogger and self confessed chocoholic who could quite easily live on a diet of turkish delight and English breakfast tea. She loves the fast paced nature of online media but sometimes feels like she’s the only member of Gen Y who still gets excited to pick up the newspaper on weekend mornings. If anyone has a Sportsgirl addiction cure please let her know [I may be on a first-name basis at my local store] She also writes a weekly column focusing on relationships, friendship and life stuff on her blog at The Budding Rose
Follow on twitter: @thebuddingrose