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Sunday, 23 May 2010

On Jason Akermanis

It would seem that Australian Jason Akermanis has opened his mouth and let a whole load of foolishness fall out

Basically, he is concerned about gay men outing themselves in sport. That the media attention and hype would be bad for the sport, the player and the team. And particularly that teams aren’t ready for it – certainly not since teams have to change and shower together – think how uncomfortable the straight people will be being naked around the gays?

Oooookayyyy…

I need to break something to you – the chances are a gay person has seen you nekked

If you ever changed for PE at school, if you’ve ever been to the swimming baths, if you’ve ever been to a sports centre, health spa, joined a sports team, if you‘ve been in a communal barracks or tent etc. In short, if you have ever been in any situation where you are naked around members of your own gender, chances are that you have been seen nekked by a gay person.

We r hiding and looking at your nekked bodies! ZOMG AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! RUN straight people, RUN!!!!

And you know what? There are several things we need to address here.

1) Nudity =/= sex. And y’know what? Chances are GBLT people know this better than most people. Why? Because we’ve been here before! Every time we go to the gym or a join a sports team and most certainly at school – gay men have been around naked straight guys, lesbians have been around naked straight women. We‘ve been there, we know and we know it‘s not sexual. We know the difference between sexual nudity and non-sexual nudity

2) Get over yourselves already. Seriously, to all the straight folks out there – gay people do not spend our lives lusting after your hetness. No, really. Enough with this silly idea that because we’re attracted to our own gender, we’re attracted to ALL of our own gender.

3) Y’know what? Maybe you are hot. Maybe you’re drool-worthy hot. Maybe you are so damn sexy that your mere presence in the changing room will make all of our days. Maybe you are sex on legs. Congratulations, have a cookie. Guess what? You being a pure avatar of solid sex does not mean that we’re going to leap on you and have our wicked way with you. It doesn’t even mean we’re going to stare at you and make you uncomfortable (and, hey, if someone DOES the skeevy leering thing then say something because that’s rude regardless), our libidos aren’t going to overrule our good sense of the appropriate. Which brings me to…

4) The gay panic defence. Y’know, it has been raised in court over here yet again not that long ago. There are a substantial number of straight people who feel it’s ok to attack gay people because they are seen to be making a come on. A touch, a glance, even how we are dressed can be seen as a reason for a violent attack. You think we’re going to stare at your naked straight arse? You think getting an eyeful is worth that kind of risk?

But, of course, the actual argument presented is NOT that gay people are going to rush at the irresistible straight folks and have our wicked wicked way. No, it’s that our open presence will make the straight folks… uncomfortable.

Ok, seriously? So GBLT people are supposed to closet themselves for their entire lives – because this is what that means – for the sake of straight people’s comfort in the dressing room? So straight people can keep the delusion that there are no gays around? Keep their partners undercover, never mention their families, make sure their families are never noticed? Maybe make up a few lies, a fake girlfriend, a fake history? Edit their entire lives for the sake of straight people’s DISCOMFORT? I would gape at the entitlement in this if it weren’t so damn common.

GBLT people don’t have a duty to censor themselves so straight people can pretend we don’t exist. To say that “coming out is unnecessary” is so beyond grossly privileged I can’t even begin to address it
Now is it going to be hard on a personal level to be the first gay man in the AFL? Yes – but if they choose to take that step then they should – and part of the reasons it will be so damn hard is because of people like

It’s not being gay that is the problem. It’s homophobia. Gay people shouldn’t have to change, adapt or accommodate that. It’s not our fault, it’s not our duty to make allowances. The fact that straight people are discomforted by our presence does not mean we should pretend not to exist.

And, to add, it’s not ‘more acceptable’ to be a lesbian in woman’s sports. Stereotyping just tends to assume sportswomen are lesbians – that’s a WHOLE different thing altogether and certainly isn’t a sign of ACCEPTANCE. It’s a sign that any woman seen doing the “manly” pursuits of sports is instantly stereotyped as a lesbian – especially if she doesn’t conform to our narrow definitions of what constitutes femininity and what a woman should look like or aspire to look like.

And if it WERE the case that women were more accepting of lesbian sportswomen, isn’t that an indictment on sportsmen?

Y’know what? You could have made a point with this article, Mr. Akermanis. You could have criticised – and rightly in my opinion – people trying to bribe, persuade or bullying people into outing themselves for the sake of publicity or to be the first gay man in the AFL. I’d agree with that sentiment, it’s not fair and it’s not right to press people into outing themselves. But instead you decided to throw in a whole lot of straight privilege that shows exactly why so many GBLT people live in the closet.

You even mentioned the appallingly high suicide rate among our youth – but perpetuate the othering, the hiding, the need to hide and the idea that heterosexuals are not only uncomfortable around gays – but that it is a gay person’s duty to accommodate that. These are the ideas – that gay people are icky and it’s right for straight people to be squicked by us, that gay people shouldn’t inflict or nastiness on the straights – that lead to that suicide rate.

I don’t know Mr. Akermanis’ intent. I hope it was much much better than what he wrote – but his delivery failed on a truly epic level, and no amount of good intent changes the harmful message.