Do Rugby Spectators’ Whistles at Gareth Thomas Count as Flirting? Or Making Fun?

SOUNDBITES — “It’s all been positive [since coming out].” But I almost wish I had a negative, because we don’t live in a perfect world and homophobia hasn’t disappeared. I don’t want to be this fairytale story, because that’s not the reality of the world, but I’m not going to make things up to make this journey I’m on seem more real. There have been a couple of wolf whistles when I’ve been warming up for the Blues, but I can take that, just like I’d expect jeers if I dropped the ball. Part of a sportsman’s job is taking banter from the crowd. And we joke about it all the time in the team. The guys see someone gorgeous reading the news and say ‘She’s really smart, what do you reckon, Alf?’ That’s not homophobia. We’re so politically correct in this society that we see it where it isn’t. … I’m dreading the day when I open a letter to find a whole lot of abuse, but up to now I’ve had nothing except support.” —Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, describing life two months after coming out (via)

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  • B Damion

    No one is going to physically try to fuck with this guy. I mean look at him. He’s not Johnny Weir gay. He’s mike tyson gay lol…
    lmao…thats just how i see it lol…I mean am I right?

  • Chicagojimmy

    Don’t tell John Amaechi, this will ruin his whole thing about gay athletes staying in the closet!

  • AlwaysGay

    @B Damion: Anti-gay bigots always attack in groups. Remember Kevin Aviance, who is 6’5″, was attacked by a group of 5-6 haterosexual males who were smaller than him.

    I’m glad Gareth’s life is going good. He should expect anti-gay bigotry and ignore it. Heterosexuals are not gay people’s authority. They are outsiders with prejudices to homosexuality.

  • Jon

    The wolf whistles are pure flattery. Woot!

  • alan brickman

    Don’t let John know about this…..Gay Men aren’t as fragile as he thinks….

  • Lukas P.

    @alan brickman: You have a good point. Mr Thomas, however, came out relatively late in his career, in a nation where his rights are somewhat more protected than here, and with little to lose. He also, NB, married a woman.

    Trying to translate that experience onto US sports and US soil, or onto a younger or less established player, however, is quite a lot more difficult. Gareth’s income and career aren’t so much at stake here——[and why did Mr Beckham move to the US? Could it have been for sponsorship dollars?] as some recent addition to a US major league NFL, basketball or baseball team.

    The players of the “manly” sports play or are sidelined based not just on their talent, but on their ability to score ratings on TV, their image and their corporate sponsors. Wild romps with cheerleaders score you thumbs up. Knocking boots with another guy? That spells LOSER.

    Without adequate support from the team, the league, the coaches, and the TV broadcastes, that young player has to be *much more* talented and have *other options for a career* than do his str8 peers.

    He also needs the cojones and backing of his family/friends and peers –and FANS– to avoid getting ostracized, run out of town, and encouraged to find other employment. He needs to know that he can do what he does best (play sports) regardless of who he fucks once the cameras are shut off.

    Tell me please, anyone, how many major league guys have succeeded in their sport after even hinting they’re BISEXUAL?

    Pretty short list, huh?

  • malcanoid

    @Chicagojimmy: John Amaechi’s advice to LGTB sports people at the start of their careers is apposite. Some correspondents on this page refer to Gareth Thomas’s coming out as taking place in a country more protective of his rights than the US but he is also coming out at the top of his game with his reputation established. I would add that he is coming out in a game which probably has a more educated following and one more likely to empathise with his position than say soccer.

    For young people in many sports in the UK, to come out still carries the risk that they will denied opportunities to achieve their potential and I think you will find few people likely to say that they won’t. When organisations like the FA get their act together and stop beginning sentences “It is not our responsibility to……” it might be time to review Amaechi’s advice but in the meantime, so far as coming out is concerned, let the heaviest burden rest on the broadest backs, namely those who have already established credibility their respective fields.

  • Kris

    Gareth, you are a strong, brave, sexy gay man!

    From another adoring fan!

  • DR

    We’re so politically correct in this society that we see it where it isn’t. …

    Best. Quote. Ever.

  • ChicagoJimmy

    @malcanoid: You and John share the same problem, you fail to understand the paradigm shift that has taken place regarding acceptance of gays and lesbians by the generation just coming into adulthood.

    I’m part of the same earlier generation as John and share a similar coming out story. I waited until I was an established professional, free of my parents finances, and able to provide for myself in case my family took my coming out badly. That was the general thinking in my day. Don’t come out in school, wait until you’re not dependent on your parents, wait, wait, wait.

    Today’s kids live in a much different world. I couldn’t have imagined coming out in High School, and now schools have gay/straight clubs. There are national organizations and local community centers dedicated to supporting gay and lesbian youth and their coming out process.

    I think most gays are waiting of our own version of Jackie Robinson. His talent was so great and his strength of character so certain that breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball was finally possible. That is the old way of thinking.

    I am waiting for the slew of kids who came out to their friends and family in junior high, before they ever were elite athletes. These kids will simply grow up being who they are and being accepted by their peers. They won’t need the approval of an older generation of fans, because they will come to the profession secure in their sexuality and person.

    That’s what John is missing. He’s still waiting for someone else to tell him it’s okay to be gay. That’s never going to happen. Gay folks simply need to stand up with our tried and true slogan, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.” If not protesting in the streets, than carrying that sentiment in our hearts and minds.

  • The Artist

    @AlwaysGay: KEVIN AVIANCE!!!! Ugh!

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