Ian Thorpe, Gayby Baby, and today in my life

Surprising big splash in today’s Sunday Telegraph, summarised here on Yahoo.

Australia’s most decorated Olympian, Ian Thorpe, has revealed he feels he was forced out of the closet in his teens, at a time where he was still grappling with his sexual identity.

Thorpe has been notoriously guarded about his private life and only came out as gay in July 2014 after years of speculation.

The 33-year-old said he was first asked about his sexuality when he was 16, and “struggled for a long time not wanting to be gay and hoping he wasn’t in some way”.

“I feel as though people were trying to force me out of the closet when I didn’t even know myself. I really didn’t, or at least I wasn’t sure.

“I felt like if I’d been given a little bit more time, perhaps I would have comfortably been able to do it… but I was just trying to fit in,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

The world champion swimmer has recently opened up about how his struggles affected his mental health and spiraled a history of depression.

He said he previously kept his struggles with depression a secret, but is now part of Young Minds Matter, a campaign designed to raise awareness of children’s mental health issues…

Thorpe said teachers targeted him when he returned to Year 10 classes in Sydney’s southwest as a world champion, at an impressionable age when all he wanted to do was fit in.

“People would question why I was at school. They were either great about it, or I had some experiences with teachers who really had this issue around the fact I’d been successful.

“That was the minority, I must insist … but it only takes one (bully) and it can really affect you.”

He felt too ashamed about feeling vulnerable at school to raise the issue with his parents…

Ian Thorpe will host a three-part series The Bully Project later this year on ABC, to raise awareness of the issue plaguing many Australians and arm young people with ways to overcome it.

He makes his first appearance at a Mardi Gras event today, on a panel with other gay athletes Matthew Mitcham and Daniel Kowalski.

Be interesting to hear what Mr Rabbit thinks about today’s Tele, seeing he was a classmate of Ian’s in Year 10. But it is good to see a good cause promoted through today’s big splash – a nice change from the drivelling about Safe Schools which some seem to think involves compulsory demonstrations of penis tucking for twelve-year-olds… (It doesn’t.)

In July 2014 I posted Ian Thorpe – free at last? There’s a bit about me too in that post, and this:

Kudos to my (second) cousin Harrison Cartwright for the Bullshit Blog  post On Ian Thorpe, coming out – and the next step.

…Ian Thorpe has come out, and guess what? It’s entirely his own business. He has done nobody a disservice in keeping this part of his life a secret. I can’t stress enough how enormously frustrating it is to read this media coverage where people can’t even fathom how he kept this a secret. These people, more often than not, are the ones who have absolutely no idea how it feels to be in that position.

Coming out is terrifying. There is absolutely no way to describe the process; the complex set of emotions that are involved – unless you’ve actually gone through it yourself. Doing it when you’re one of the most well-known names in the country? I cannot even begin to imagine how much more difficult that must have been.

Thorpe has demonstrated an enormous amount of bravery in making this aspect of his life public. In doing so, he’s shown that while we might not be there yet, but we’re certainly getting a lot closer.

Screenshot - 13_07_2014 , 8_45_57 AM

Last year there was quite a controversy here in NSW:

NSW government stops showing of documentary in schools

Posted on August 27, 2015 by Neil

This began, it appears, with a characteristic fit of righteous wrath from the Sydney Daily Telegraph front page. I saw but did not bother reading it. Life is too short.

But there have been rapid consequences, as reported in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

The NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, has banned every public school in the state from screening a documentary about children with gay parents during school hours.

On Wednesday afternoon Mr Piccoli issued a memo to the state’s principals ordering them not to show the film Gayby Baby so as “to not impact on the delivery of planned lessons”.

Adrian Piccoli has in many ways proven a good Education Minister, so I am disappointed – if the report fairly quotes him – with “During school hours we expect them to be doing maths and English and curriculum matters… This movie is not part of the curriculum and that’s why I’ve made that direction.” It might be thought that the movie does address issues in the larger curriculum dealing with personal development, health and social inclusion. (I see a friend on Twitter – a head teacher in a western Sydney school – finds Adrian Piccoli’s response “sad and gutless”.)

See the film’s website.

“Touching, frank and delightfully humorous”

– The Reel World

“Essential viewing for every family – same-sex, straight or otherwise.”

– Benjamin Law, author

Gayby Baby is being screened tonight on SBS at 8.30 pm. It’s the Sun-Herald pick of the week.

Want to see what all the fuss was about? This is the documentary film that was shown in a couple of NSW schools, then banned from being shown in NSW schools because of its unacceptably corrupting influence.

Because we all know (a) that even looking at a gay person is enough to turn you gay, and (b) watching a film about gay parents instantly inspires you to turn gay and then acquire offspring…

Gayby Baby had its genesis in a rather beautiful short documentary from Maya Newell, which ran as part of the ABC’s Opening Shot series, supporting budding doco makers.

This covers the same ground – and some of the same characters – but is narration-free and focuses on a few months in the lives of four families.

It almost goes without saying that what we mostly get to see is a great deal of pretty quotidian 21st century parenting: parents loving and supporting their children, making sacrifices for them, trying to instil wholesome community values in them, and occasionally losing their tempers.

Perhaps the most marked difference from most heterosexual families is that in the case where the men are parents, they do a lot more housework.

Any parent will be able to relate to many of the struggles and difficulties depicted here: a child with disabilities, or learning difficulties, or one who prefers footy over church (or wrestling over just about everything).

The children, all aged around 12, are uniformly delightful: smart, cheerful, thoughtful.

The one thing that really distinguishes them from heterosexual families is that the youngsters have to learn early to deal with bullying and prejudice…

And in my life: five years today since my last cigarette!

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