ITV has announced its broadcasting team for the 2015 rugby union world cup. It includes various English rugby union world cup heroes and various luminaries from around the world. Oh, and Gareth Thomas, who the Daily Telegraph helpfully informs us was “the first openly gay professional rugby player”. Oddly, it does not describe the sexuality of the other pundits, presumably because they are not gay. “And the coverage will be anchored by ultra macho straight man John Inverdale and the definitely not gay Sir Clive Woodward,” the Telegraph doesn’t go on to say.
This sort of thing obviously matters to the Telegraph, even if it doesn’t matter to anyone else. The paper grudgingly mentioned that Thomas had been Wales captain but omitted the highlights of his glittering career like the 100 caps he received and the fact that he had captained the British Lions. What is it with some people?
When Thomas came out six years ago, it was big news. After all, rugby players are not gay, are they? Rugby is a rufty-tufty sport for real men. That Thomas was as hard as hard men come should have been enough to convince the world that it’s really not important whether you are gay or straight and we are still in the dark ages where sexuality is concerned.
I know some people, from a different generation, compared gay men to paedophiles. “You can’t leave your kids with him!” I heard someone say, back in the even more unenlightened past. But a gay man is no more inclined to fiddle with kids – or anyone – than a straight man. The clue is in the sexual description. So, what are we frightened of? And what was the Telegraph thinking about?
Anyone who has ever had more than a passing interest in rugby union, and current affairs for that matter, will know all about Gareth Thomas. They will know about his personal torment and great courage in coming out. We really don’t need to be told again. Is it a fact that is relevant? Well, I can’t see it.
Does your sexuality define you as a person? Yes, but does it define you as a better or worse person? Or does being gay mean that there is something different or if wrong about you?
I talk with my children about the subject and they look at me as if I have two heads. What, they must be thinking, was the matter with your generation that they fretted about something so utterly trivial? They know people who are gay, who have come out in this much more enlightened generation and they think, “Well, so what? That isn’t news.”
I suppose it must be hard for the Telegraph, living in a bubble like the last century never happened. The young generation must despair at my generation, hung up on ancient cliche, wrapped up in bigotry and caught up by stereotypes.
Tom Robinson once sang, “Sing if you’re glad to be gay”. Now I am not suggesting that there’s any need to sing about your sexuality whatever it is but it really is time we realised that being gay is not abnormal. Gay is the new straight. It’s another type of normal.