I first visited Australia 20 years ago. I had not long left behind my own involvement at the heart of London’s gay community where I had witnessed a significantly higher than average percentage of men struggle with depression and addiction, with some both attempting and succeeding in committing suicide.
A third of my three-month Aussie visa was spent glued to a television screen in Jannali watching Australian football. I was mesmerised by each player’s speed, talent and swift decisive reactions, and by their phenomenal level of fitness. For me, Aussie rules took gold on the podium of the sporting elite.
On August 13, Round 21 of the AFL season, the league hosted the inaugural Pride Game between the Sydney Swans and St Kilda. It was hailed as the first Pride Game for a professional sporting competition anywhere in the world.
St Kilda chief executive Matt Finnis is quoted as saying that “the Saints were committed to this game because ‘pride’ is the opposite of ‘shame’”. He states: “St Kilda firmly believes that communities can only thrive when all people belong.”
Just a thought, if we’re now mixing sport with politicking.
We can all agree that people need to belong, but history shows that pride is not the opposite of shame. The pathway through shame into belonging demands humility and raw honesty, not its nemesis, pride. Ask any addict or trauma victim who has truly moved through recovery.
Swans chief executive Andrew Ireland has said that “the match will help raise awareness and champion change”. But what type of awareness is being raised? And what change exactly is being championed?
Nearly 30 years ago, when in the gay lobby, I was in discussions with others about how we might desensitise the public so as to view homosexuality with indifference, or better still, to see it as a lifestyle to be celebrated. Much of the discursive outcome is brandished in the book, After The Ball, by Marshal Kirk, a marketing and a psychology graduate from Harvard, and Hunter Madsen, a social scientist, also a Harvard graduate.
Simply put, the strategy involved encouraging openly proud members of the LGBT community to obtain leadership roles in key sectors of society: the entertainment industry, the media, education, politics, the military, and health care, especially psychology and psychiatry. We knew then that the most challenging bastion needing to fall would be the sports sector as this literally embodied male and female. Sport would be the final hurdle before the rainbow winning line.
The only major stumbling block that future leaders would need to quash would be public concerns that might rise about the health risks linked to homosexual practice – and the risks are frightening. It is for this reason that we are taught that it is impolite to discuss what happens in, ahem, gay sex. So, let’s look at the risks.
Aside from numerous sexually transmitted infections and physical injuries, some of which are virtually unknown in the heterosexual population, there are high rates of psychiatric illnesses and of cancers. There exists a considerably higher rate of “chemsex” and general drug abuse within the gay community.
Repeated suicide attempts are not uncommon and epidemiological studies show that gay and bisexual men lose up to 20 years of life expectancy. Not even copious amounts of LGBT promotion, legislation and social acceptance over three decades have changed the outcomes for those who practise homosexually.
The New Zealand AIDS Foundation states: “It’s been scientifically proven that anal sex is 18 times riskier than vaginal sex when it comes to HIV.” Cuban researchers have discovered a new and aggressive strain of HIV that can develop into AIDS more rapidly than ever. Aside from this there is the arrival of super-gonorrhea, which is spreading through Australia’s gay community and which at present is antibiotic resistant.
The risks of gay sex, which our young people are being encouraged to consider and practise, are the crack in the dam to be hidden from public examination at all costs. If ever the entire risks were revealed, the carefully constructed glitz and pride would rapidly fall away. Society would again be outraged, and rightly so, by the devastating long-term effects of homosexual practice, only this time out of genuine and deep concern for those who practise it.
The way to keep whistleblowers silent has been to employ “homophobia-phobia”, which involves creating an atmosphere where anybody would be disinclined to question any matter relating to homosexuality, for fear of upsetting the LGBT community. Or even more frightening still, of being seen to be politically incorrect.
But what about the truth? What about humbly and honestly “raising awareness and championing change” first and foremost among the gay community? Why not first consider donating any monies willingly being spent on AFL’s temporary one-day rainbows to raise awareness within the gay community and the sporting world of the serious health risks linked to certain sexual practices?
I have also witnessed many times that those who end up infected with any number of ailments as a result of homosexual practice find themselves further isolated rather than belonging, and clothed more deeply in shame than ever. In the long run, this is the opposite of what Finnis wishes to achieve.
Australia’s first religion is sport, and young children often see footy players as demi-gods. To entwine LGBT ideology with sport, without notifying young and old alike of the risks contained within the dogma being promoted, is tantamount to knowingly advertising the destruction of health. Surely this isn’t the remit of the AFL’s CEOs or its top executive, Gillon McLachlan. There would be outrage if footy players were to be linked to the promotion of tobacco, and yet the detrimental effects of homosexual practice can be way more serious than the effects of smoking.
I believe the AFL is unwittingly barracking for a greater injustice against the very people it is seeking to support, and all in the name of justice. It’s not as if the AFL doesn’t already have enough sexual and narcotic scandals on its leaderboard without giving birth to others that will mature in the future.
Let’s also not forget that the rainbow colours to be branded upon players shirts, socks, the arch, match-day ball and goal umpire flags are first and foremost a reminder of God’s unfailing love for his children. It is not solely the logo of a people who, I know from firsthand experience, often choose of their own volition to be set apart from mainstream society. Or of those who might engage in sexual practices that can at times be nothing short of a deathstyle.
Trying to break down the barriers of what is seen as a patriarchal culture within the AFL is one thing. Rebuilding it with resources from a gaytriarchal culture is another.
I am left wondering what another groups of saints – the Ugandan martyrs, St Charles Lwanga and companions, who were burnt alive for opposing homosexual practice a decade after the Sydney Swans and St Kilda teams were founded – might think of Round 21 of the AFL. An eternal own goal for each team, I reckon.
British-born James Parker lives in Western Australia. He is an abuse survivor and a former gay rights activist.