Sunday, July 06, 2008

Diving into the new world.

There is a new world out there, being born as we speak, and it terrifies the forces of conservatism. Consider just two examples that I read recently.

British actor John Barrowman plays the ambisexual hunk hero, Captain Jack Harkness in the British hit sci-fi series Torchwood. He told the story of a young boy who came up to him for an autograph and said: “I don’t care if Captain Jack likes boys and girls. He’s still my hero.” Barrowman, who is gay, said: “He epitomizes how kids don’t care. Adults are afraid.”

Barrowman had a civil union with his partner of 15 years and is openly gay and it hasn’t hurt his career one bit. If anything he’s more popular today than ever.

Matt Mitcham, 20, is a top contender in the Olympics representing Australia in diving. He was being interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald and the reporter, Jessica Halloran, asked him if he was living with anyone. Without giving it much thought he said he was lived with his partner, Lachlan. The newspaper headline saye he was “declaring his homosexuality”.

Other publications said similar things. The whole story was that he “came out of the closet”.

Mitcham is perplexed. He wants to know why the press thinks this is a big deal since he wasn’t in the closet to begin with. Mitcham told his family and friends that he was gay when he was 14 years old. He said: “I came out years ago. All that happened was that I was doing an interview with the Herald and there was a pretty innocuous question, ‘Who do I live with?’ and I just said ‘my partner Lachlan’. And the journalist was really excited -- she thought it was absolutely wonderful.”

The journalist is part of the old world. Mitcham is part of the new world. In the old world being gay is something unusual. In the new world it is rather mundane. In the old world the reaction to the news is surprise, maybe even horror. In the new world the reaction is, “yea, so what.”

The reality is that the young, in most enlightened parts of the Western world, simply don’t find being gay particularly odd or noteworthy. Many young people have gay friends that they grew up with. Instead of hiding their sexuality for decades more and more gay adolescents are open about it right from the start.

For many young people there is no such thing as a closet. And that is what scares the conservatives who try to instil shame and fear into anyone who is gay or different.

What this means is simple. The world has changed.

So what about things like gay marriage bans in various states and other antigay legislation. Such measures are dinosaurs lumbering along toward extinction. They already feel a chill in the air that tells them they are doomed. They only cling to life barely. But as more and more of the old generations die off they are replaced by people who don’t have their manic fears and paranoid illusions.

The laws will change eventually. And when they do people will look back at them and think what fools we were to be upset by such things. And they will be right.


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I think you should go back and read the original story in the Sydney Morning Herald.

I conducted two interviews with Matt Mitcham for the article and it was with his permission that the story was printed revealing his sexuality.

It was not just based around a "throw away" comment during one interview.

Unfortunately, in Australian sporting soceity, it is still deemed a brave move by Matt to disclose his sexuality. He is the first ever openly gay Australian Olympian; and he took much time and thought before he decided to reveal his sexuality in the mainstream media.

There was great consideration taken in writing it and Matt approved the story before it went to print. If you could correct your blog that would be great.

It is massively misreported by SX that I took a line about him living with Lachlan and blew it out of the water.

The article actually focussed on getting Lachlan funding from Johnson & Johnson to Beijing.


Jessica Halloran

Sydney Morning Herald

CLS said...

Ms. Halloran: Actually nothing you says conflicts with what I said. Mitcham in other interviews said he briefly mentioned his partner in response to your question and that you jumpted on that making it a bigger part of the story. He didn’t say it was done without his permission so saying you had his permission doesn’t change a thing.

The comment he made was a throw away statement in answer to your question. That doesn’t mean you didn’t ask him many more questions on the subject and that he answered them honestly.

I did read your original story. I actually read several stories on the topic an not just the one you say misreported things and that includes your own stories in the SMH.