Frighteningly-coiffed Jason Akermanis is worried about what could happen in footy changing rooms if players knew other players are gay:
Locker room nudity is an everyday part of our lives and unlike any other work place.
I believe it would cause discomfort in that environment should someone declare himself gay.
He even has an example:
…When I was showering with 10 other players after a good win and I turned around to see all 10 heading out in a second with their towels. Sure enough, our gay teammate had wandered in.
For some reason I felt uncomfortable, so I left. I am sure most players these days would do the same.
So Jason suggests a vigorous campaign of education to help AFL players like himself who are threatened by gay people get over their debilitating prejudice and fatuous misconcepti… nah, just kidding. He suggests gay people stay in the closet.
That’s his solution. He knows he and the others were being stupid:
I know he wasn’t about to try and convert me to his way of thinking, but I was uncomfortable all the same.
What I should have done was to sit down and talk with him in an attempt to understand his life.
And yet in his article, Jason is arguing that it’s the gay player’s behaviour that’s the problem!
The odd thing is, Jason clearly thinks of himself as someone who’s not prejudiced against gay people:
Away from football, I’m all for any initiative that helps lessen public bias against homosexuality, such as IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia), which was run on Monday.
If you thought suicide was bad among young men, it is four to six times higher for people who are attracted to the same sex.
Note: these are issues to be tackled “away from football”. Why? What’s so special about football?
In an athletic environment the rules are different from the cultural rules for men.
Never in a mall will you see two straight men hugging, a— slapping and jumping around like kids after an important goal.
Locker room nudity and homoerotic activities are normal inside footy clubs.
So… we want the right to enjoy acting gay in private whilst reinforcing our questionable claims to heterosexuality by excluding gay people and pack-raping vulnerable young women. Is that right?
Akermanis’s main point, that it’d be very difficult for the first gay player to come out of the closet, is undoubtedly correct – but that’s a reason for players like him to offer their support, not disapproval. If gay players won’t come forward, and straight players tell gay players not to come forward, then how is anything going to change?
Jason is wrong – it’s not up to “gay activists” to end discrimination and prejudice. It’s up to all of us.
ELSEWHERE: Captain of the Australian rowing team, Kim Crow, tries to explain to Akermanis:
Being homophobic, Aker, is not excused because you value an outdated blokey AFL culture. In case you’ve missed it, the AFL is trying to develop an inclusive culture that welcomes all variety of people of all backgrounds, races and skill-sets. If a player is gay, publicly or privately, he deserves your support, not your childish fears.
Changing social perception is about awareness and highlighting prejudices that are no longer acceptable. Aker, you’d be doing us all a favour if you just shut your mouth.
Quite. The sad thing is, I suspect Akermanis will be quite stunned at the responses – he probably thinks, given the people he’s surrounded with, that he’s fairly progressive on the issue. Let’s hope he can finally grasp the point that has so far eluded him.