I was enjoying a drink with a gay friend of mine last weekend and we got chatting about the whole Todd Carney fiasco. I mention that he is gay not because, like those dreadful girls who have watched too much Sex and the City, I absolutely have to have a gay friend to drag around like an accessory, but because it is relevant to his opinion.
Anyway, he admitted that he thought the photo was actually ‘hot’, something I hadn’t even taken a second to consider in my analysis of the act (I just thought it was hilarious), and that others in the gay community also felt this way. Obviously one bloke and a few of his mates aren’t the most reliable sample field, but it got me thinking; could Carney become a gay icon*? And furthermore, where have all the gay icons in sport gone? That is, if there were any in the first place.
I can’t think of one currently ‘out’ athlete in Australia still competing. Matthew Mitcham is the only one who springs to mind, but I can’t work out if he is still actually diving competitively or just appearing in terrible TV shows. I am sure there are a plethora in women’s hockey and netball**, but let’s face it, those sports aren’t at the forefront of the national psyche. I feel like an AFL player may have come out recently, but once again, I have a suspicion he retired before doing so.
The most recent recognised study I could find on homosexual statistics in Australia was from 2003. It found that just 1.2% of Australians are gay. Interestingly, a more recent study in the United States (2011) found a whopping 3.8% of Americans are gay, which suggests to me (although I have little social science to back this up) that as attitudes have relaxed significantly over the past decade, more people are willing to admit, perhaps even to themselves, that they are indeed more interested in the wizardry of their own genitals.
It is impossible to presume that these statistics transfer flawlessly into the world of athletes, as athletes are generally an exceptional group of people in one way or another, but it is safe to say there are more than a few Australian athletes out there who choose to remain in the closet. Do they fear the backlash? Believe that Australia isn’t quite ready for a bunch of homosexuals running around in our top leagues and being broadcast into our lounge rooms?
Well I say, fuck it! Australia is ready! Come out! And anyone who has a problem with it can quite simply fuck off back to their conservative caves!
Could it be more than that though? Perhaps they fear the athletic world in which they live isn’t ready. This is something I can only speculate on, but as someone who played in more than a few sporting sides growing up, I can tell you these would not be easy environments to come out in. I am not saying these environments were homophobic, but more thoughtless and long overdue for a shake up from within. Having openly gay players in the system is the only way this is going to happen and it needs some brave men and women to step up to this challenge.
The darker side of all this is that these are very difficult environments for those who are not completely unequivocal regarding their sexuality. How many tormented geniuses have we seen acting out when all good sense suggests they should have surely learned their lesson by now? I am not saying that all of them are homosexuals, but I do wonder how many gay athletes have turned to drugs and alcohol to escape the depression that usually comes with being unsure of yourself.
What does this all have to do with Carney taking a piss in his own mouth for the amusement of his ‘mates’? Well, I don’t really know, the mind tends to wander, but you don’t have to be gay to be a gay icon*** and the notion of Carney suddenly deciding to chase the ‘pink dollar’ is something I am incredibly comfortable with. You can’t say he wouldn’t look fantastic in some budgie-smugglers, angel wings on his back and atop a Mardi Gras float, singing ‘Spinning Around’ with Kylie by his side.
By Alasdair McClintock
* I would like to get in early and state his article is in no way suggesting Todd Carney is in fact gay. But if he is, more power to him!
** Stereotyping here, and I’m sorry… but it’s true, isn’t it?
*** Really want to stress this – I’m not saying Todd Carney is gay. (But also, if he is… more power etc.)