Jason Akermanis – you’re part of the problem

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.

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32 responses to “Jason Akermanis – you’re part of the problem

  1. Frighteningly-coiffed

    GOLD.

    Excellent work, mate.

  2. It’s not hard to give someone the opportunity to NOT come on to you.

    I’m sure a gay footballer is more than used to controlling his feelings, given the years they’ve spent in change rooms.

    Give them a go. If they start crossing any boundaries, let them know. Its the same with any unwelcome sexual advance.

  3. He is and has always been an idiot… He needs a decent junk punch.

  4. Pingback: As if you needed more reasons to hate Akermanis… « Chasing My Own Tail

  5. army guy in Afghanistan of Afghanistan Posted at 11:20 AM Today

    I have to fully agree with Jason Akermanis on this matter. Im an closeted gay man in the army for about 30 years since I was 17 years of age and Im presently deployed overseas in an war zone and not my first either. No one knows my sexually and I prefer to keep it that way . I fully agree with what Akirt is saying as unfortunately anyone coming out would be target. In regards to God and what is wrong and right? If there is a God then he made me the way I am.

    Thats from the comments at his article.

    Has anyone here bothered wondering if Ackermanis is writing this article as an apology for not coming out himself?

    I play aussie rules and there is an unwritten rule about no women in the change room at our club. But thats more to do with the fact that some players are married and have families and I think its more to do with that…

    But … OK … if AFl was a mixed sport and there were women in the change rooms of course the straight guys would check them out. They might not come on to them or anything, but they’d still check them out. I know I would.

    I know the women that watch us play check us out, and they comment on it afterward. (If our positions were reversed then we’d be sexist bastards.)

    (Same if I’m at the beach.)

    I’ve played footy with guys who are bi for sure, and probably with gay guys (tho they were in the closet – but we have our suspicions.) Honestly who gives a fuck.

    The bi guy was cool, not into coming on to us, but who cares if he was checking us out. I don’t.

    This article says more about the fear and latency in AFL football than anything else.

    BUT he may have a point with this:

    “The only time I noticed a difference was 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.

    I know he wasn’t about to try and convert me to his way of thinking, but I was uncomfortable all the same.”

    If he was a woman, and he was talking about a straight guy instead of a gay guy … would he have a point?

    Maybe if Jason is uncomfortable he needs to examine why – it might not be his sexuality, he just might be recognising that the attitude he has to women isn’t what he’d want if he really looked at himself in the mirror.

    Not that it matters in terms of his article.

    If the AFL isn’t ready for someone to come out now then it never will be.

    In fact, in light of the comment I pasted at the top – now is the time more than ever for someone to show some leadership and guts off the field.

    Indigenous players in the 80s and 90s did more (imo) to break down real barriers between people back then and kind of make indigenous people “part” of Australia. (It shouldn’t be left to sport to do that, but it was.)

    The same thing could happen now.

    Cos really gay guys playing footy, what – you gonna be scared to tackle them if you know they are gay? Thats ridiculous.

    My wife does Roller Derby every now and then. Half the sides she plays with and against are gay/lesbian or whatever. It doesn’t seem to be issue with them.

    BTW Chasy is right.

    Pure GOLD.

  6. Well written post Jeremy, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    You too Jules, it appears to me that more than any other medium, sport in this country has always been in the forefront of breaking down barriers between groups of people — wether they be religious, racial or political, so why not sexual as well ?

    Having said that, I think it would take enormous courage for the first gay player to “come out” — can you imagine the media feeding frenzy !

    I only hope if it does happen that player’s club and team mates support him 100%, because the pressure of the media spotlight will be on them as well.

    As to Akermanis’ sexuality — well, he is married with at least 1 child I know of, so I suspect he’s not gay — Bi ? who knows ?

  7. “For some reason I felt uncomfortable, so I left. I am sure most players these days would do the same.”

    if i was in those steamy, towel snapping shower rooms, i’d prefer to know who was gay

    “I know he wasn’t about to try and convert me to his way of thinking,”

    apparently homosexuality is a philosophy, with converts

  8. Gav, who knows? You’re probably right, but then if someone’s really in the closet. But I’m speculating really. There’s no evidence.

    Cept that people who are scared of homosexuality – what are they really scared of?

    Ackermanis – he’s a bit of a knobhead thats for sure, but in his day he was a fucking fantastic footy player. I mean when it comes to football really thats all we should expect from people, and other than that that they will behave like people everywhere (ie in lots of different ways.) They’re people like the rest of us so they shouldn’t be exhempt from anything tho.

    But making them role models?

    Nah thats dumb. And even listening to what Ackermanis says in that article as some sort of “leadership” or opinion isn’t really a good idea. Or any contrary opinion from an AFl persona.

    If its gonna happen in the AFL it has to be a grass roots thing, it has to come from individual players for their own reasons and generate its own momentum.

    Thats why it worked with race, and it wasn’t easy. It was a long hard road if you remember what it was like before Micheal Long was denied entry into that bar all those years ago.

    Hopefully it won’t take as long if players start coming out, but it’ll probably get ugly, especially from crowds at games.

    Its gonna blow some minds when two players from different clubs turn up at the Brownlow as each other’s dates.

  9. Also in his day he was great, and i haven’t seen him this year, but for an old has been on the field he was essential in building a side at the Bulldogs last year. So many times I saw him be second to the ball behind a teammate (cos he’s older and slower) anbd do the thankless hard work that has to be done.

    I was impessed cos I always thought him a show pony.

    I’m a Kanga’s fan too so I’ve got no reason to want to be impressed.

    he should keep his mouth shut about stuff like that tho.

  10. confessions

    The Australian has a gallery of out gay sportspeople. I’m sure there are heaps more.

    Aker’s simply living in the past. What a tool.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/gallery-e6frg6n6-1225869110373?page=1

  11. Re. Invig’s comment “I’m sure a gay footballer is more than used to controlling his feelings, given the years they’ve spent in change rooms” – as if a gay man is attracted to everything that’s not a woman.

    Being a gay man myself (and in a long-term relationship, thank you very much), I can honestly say that I’m not at all attracted to 95% of men, and 99% of male AFL football players. So I’m sure I’d have no problems controlling myself in a shower situation.

    I mean really, for how long do we have to have this kind of discussion in the developed world. Homosexuality has always existed, it will continue to exist, there is no threat to anyone.

    So, Jeremy, thanks for pointing this story out, but geez it’s frustrating that we have to keep ploughing this very old field.

  12. Pingback: Channel 7 as bad as Akermanis « An Onymous Lefty

  13. “Jason Akermanis – you’re part of the problem”

    My 2 cents, Jason Akermanis and his ilk are the problem, FFS Akermanis, it’s a GAME! If you can’t handle openly gay team mates then why don’t you just quit?

    As somebody who enjoys watching sport (cricket is my fave but I like most football) I want to see the bets athletes competing, I couldn’t……and shouldn’t give a damn about their sexuality.

    It seems to me that the only people who have a problem with openly gay sports people are bigots, being bigots they are willfully ignorant, ie they’re stupid! Who gives a shit what overpaid, stupid people think?

  14. bets athletes??? best athletes.

  15. I want to post this here too, because it’s relevant, originally posted at PP:

    I was heartened to read loads of criticism of Akermanis in the Sun this morning. (when I was in the dunny – where tabloid is much easier to read than broadsheet 😀 )

    Kudos for the sun readers for that… the Sun though, still hate that paper, they’re loving the controversy, as that caveman Akermanis is, maybe he’s a bit like a dog (sorry my canine friends for the comparison) he just craves the attention, negative attention being better than no attention at all?

  16. Everyone’s hanging shit on Ackermanis about this, even some coaches have spoken out criticising him, but no one has bothered to take him on face value wrt his comments about the attitude of footy players.

    What if he is right, and the players culture itself is actually not capable of dealing with this issue.

    That was his main point.

    Everyone thinks its just Ackermanis expressing his personal view, but what if he is accurately reporting the state of homophobia in the AFL. (Remember he said compared to his attitudes there were worse ones.)

    If this was an issue about race for example the AFL would have started to act on some sort of education for players already.

    But it hasn’t (to my knowledge.)

    I suspect they’ll be happy if this is a minor storm in a teacu and then everyone goes on with life as usual assuming the AFL is actually supportive of gay footballers .

    Maybe that suits the AFL cos it doesn’t have to actually do anything.

    Obviously there are gay AFL players (and of course you’d assume there were) or else JA wouldn’t have written his article.

  17. “What if he is right, and the players culture itself is actually not capable of dealing with this issue.”

    Look, I appreciate that this is what he’s saying but what I’m saying is that it’s the ones with the problem, the homophobes who need to get over themselves, it will happen sooner or later, I just want it to happen sooner.

  18. Splatterbottom

    Labeling people as homophobic is generally counter-productive. Save that for those who are deeply embittered, otherwise the word loses its meaning.

    In days gone by there was much more violence involved. People need to understand and accept. The more day to day contact they have with gays, the more they realise that they have nothing to fear.

    Most other football codes have out gay players. It is only a matter of time before the AFL catches up. It is probably just a case of Victorian repression taking a little longer to dissipate.

  19. Aker’s Ego leaves little room for humility. He probably thinks he is doing the right thing by fellow gay players.

    The journo who asked him the question is as bad. They know Aker’s a walking sound bite and doesn’t hold back on his opinions (right or wrong).

  20. “The journo who asked him the question is as bad.”

    What journo? Akermanis wrote an actual article in the Hun.

  21. Sorry my bad, though wouldn’t be surprised if he was asked put your opinions on this issue up.

    The walking sound bite call is true, Aker will comment on everything and anything if you ask him.

  22. Someone should ask him to comment on why that is.

  23. He will answer it, his mouth never stops. 🙂


  24. As somebody who enjoys watching sport (cricket is my fave but I like most football) I want to see the bets athletes competing, I couldn’t……and shouldn’t give a damn about their sexuality.

    Do you remember that issue with Denise Annetts who is an Australian womens cricketer?

    She went public stating that she was discriminated against for being heterosexual. Stated she was overlooked for a tour to NZ because of it. Maybe this a pack mentality of team sports?

  25. [Labeling people as homophobic is generally counter-productive. ]

    Maybe SB, but I just can’t help calling it how I see it, I make no apology either, granted their maybe degrees of homophobia, those who are uncomfortable around homosexuals to those who are out and out queer bashers (I would wager that some (if not many) of those ‘queer bashers’ are homosexuals themselves, just not able to cope with the fact)

    Anthony,

    I didn’t know that story, but hey, heterosexuals don’t have a monopoly on being arseholes…

    [Aker’s Ego leaves little room for humility. He probably thinks he is doing the right thing by fellow gay players. ]

    That’s crossed my mind but I reckon Akermanis is a controversialist so…. he has the result he and the Herald Sun would have wanted, this particular column went global..

  26. That’s crossed my mind but I reckon Akermanis is a controversialist so…. he has the result he and the Herald Sun would have wanted, this particular column went global..

    Agree and he loves attention, though same token he believes what he says. As for the Herald Sun that’s why they hired the multi coloured sound bite. 🙂

    I don’t always agree with him on topics he writes about but I respect the fact he doesn’t pull punches and give the clichéd footballer answers.

  27. Personally I think anyone who is uncomfortable around homosexuals probably needs to ask themselves some searching questions.

    “[Aker’s Ego leaves little room for humility. He probably thinks he is doing the right thing by fellow gay players. ]”

    On the money there RobJ, and his Ego leaves little room for the idea that most people don’t really care what he thinks if he isn’t talking about football.

    Tho obviously on this topic lots of people do…

    BTW Acker’s hair … the real reason he dyes is probably because it gets him Brownlow votes.

    Nearly every short blond haired rover I have played with reckons they get more votes if their hair gets the umpires eye, cos sometimes in a pack its hard to tell who is doing what.

  28. That was my line btw jules 🙂

    He dyes his hair to get away from the ranga stimga.

  29. Yeah, that was Anthony’s line..

    “most people don’t really care what he thinks if he isn’t talking about football.”

    This is generally what I think but he needs to be slapped down when he makes such detrimental statements, there are already homosexuals who wont participate in sport because of perceived homophobia, Akermanis isn’t helping.

    Anyway, sport is NOTHING without spectators and I’m a spectator who cares about the spectacle, not the sexuality of the participants.

  30. Sorry Anthony.

    Good call on your part.

    “He dyes his hair to get away from the ranga stimga.”

    Its probably grey by now. I was serious about the vote chasing tho, the umpires are gonna remember every time they see that frightening coif getting his hands on the ball.

    And yeah RobJ Ackermanis’ is an idiot at best and doesn’t really have a clue.

    Maybe he’ll learn from this tho. You never know.

    Remember that comment – the first one after his article?

    That speaks about a serious problem, and I hope Ackermanis works out how he’s contributing to it.

  31. Pingback: Going after MPs’ private lives hurts the country – Pure Poison

  32. confessions

    Not instant, but karma all the same.

    http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/akermanis-stays-a-bulldog-just-20100601-wsxr.html

    The Age report doesn’t say, but ABC online is reporting it’s over his comments about gay people.

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