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Clyde Rathbone: 'I'm in love with a gay man'

The Brumbies' Clyde Rathbone.

The Brumbies' Clyde Rathbone. Photo: Melissa Adams

I'm in love with a gay man.

It's a bromance born out of deep respect and admiration for a kindred spirit. My friend is as close to a brother as a person not born of the same mother can be. He's one of the bravest people I know. And for most of his life he carried the burden of his sexuality like an anchor around his neck.

In writing this piece, I spoke with my friend (I’ll call him John) about his experience as a gay man in a professional sporting environment.

This is a small insight into his story.

“For as long as I can remember, I have known that I am gay. I didn't accept it until my late teens and for a long time I would punish myself for certain thoughts in an attempt to condition myself out of my ‘gayness’.

"Things became increasingly difficult for me because I knew I was gay, and after various ridiculous attempts to change this - it wasn't going away. At the same time I was passionate about excelling in my sport. The two stereotypes of 'gay' and ‘professional athlete' caused me a lot of internal conflict.”

When I think about the stigma reserved for the gay community, it is easy to understand why John struggled as much as he did. Gay people aren't simply different, they are different in a way that makes them less moral. And what's more, they made the ''lifestyle choice'' to be this way, haven’t you heard?

When a culture relentlessly reinforces a particular narrative it becomes increasingly difficult to challenge it. And professional sport is often a deeply homophobic environment.

Words such as “faggot” and “homo” are not accepted in most workplaces, but in the testosterone-driven world of men’s sport, they remain commonplace.

John continued: “Aged 18 I became involved in a professional sport. This was my dream come true, and nothing was going to stop me making the most of the opportunity. I deliberated at length at the time and decided that to achieve my goals it was important to be judged for what I did, and not what I was. So I decided to keep being gay a secret. This decision turned into a slow, self-imposed torture.

"I have spent my life terrified that ‘coming out’ to my friends would break their trust. I worry that they will think I’m a fraud for lying to them for so long. And I couldn't live knowing that the people closest to me didn't think I was a genuine person. The people who know me think I’m a truthful and honest individual. This is important to me and it’s a conflict I am still dealing with.”

Suffering of this kind is desperately sad, and a reminder that while attitudes towards homosexuality are improving, many gay people remain deeply affected by societies that define them by their sexuality.

John: “I didn't tell anyone that I was gay until my mid-20s - not my family, not my friends, absolutely no one. I eventually came out to some people close to me who I trust. This decision made itself, in that I hit rock bottom in the weeks leading up to my decision to talk. I was a wreck. I would spend most of my personal time in tears, my thoughts were becoming dangerous to my well-being and I knew if I didn't speak up my life was at risk.”

I asked John his opinion about how sport can address homophobia.

John: “Addressing this situation in professional sport is very difficult. Lots of things are written, lots of things are said, and there are plenty of good intentions shown by athletes, administrators and fans alike."

This week in Sydney the main football codes as well as Cricket Australia united in their commitment to rid sport of homophobia. New anti-homophobia and inclusion frameworks will be implemented by the end of August.

John: "It is important to express that being gay is not a disease, that gay athletes will be accepted in sport. I applaud this work. But it’s not enough to persuade all gay athletes that it is OK to come out.

"I feel that addressing the vocabulary we use is important, but I think this addresses the problem in a very superficial way. I don’t want people not to say what they think, I want them to realise how ignorant their words are and recognise the harm that these words can do.

"We have to continue to educate people. Sporting organisations can create environments that nurture curiosity and encourage rational thought. I think a byproduct of changing the way we think leads to a willingness to embrace differences in people.”

John had this to say about coming out to his friends and family:

John: “Talking about this has been the most freeing decision I have made and I feel grateful to have had people in my life who I am comfortable talking to - some people don't have this luxury.

"My world changed when I spoke to people. In my mind over 20-odd years I grew my sexuality into a world-ending problem - the truth is that it isn't, and speaking with people close to me gave me a rational perspective again.

"We should not avoid this conversation, it is a conversation that must be had.”

177 comments

  • Can the bigots who hide behind the Bible and cite religious beliefs as a reason to exclude and demean gay and lesbian people not realise the hurt they cause?

    Commenter
    Matthew
    Date and time
    April 11, 2014, 1:18PM
    • Unfortunately, it's not just religious bigots causing the pain. Many young people call their friends "gay" in a friendly, derogatory way as a joke. It's not a joke. Let's all gently remind everyone who says this that they may be hurting people by using the word in this way. To a young, gay person, it's constant reaffirmation that being gay is something negative. Let's get rid of "gay" as the go to word for friendly put-downs.

      Commenter
      J
      Date and time
      April 11, 2014, 1:30PM
    • In my experience, it is Christians who are more respectful of gay people, and the non religious who are most likely to use terms such as "faggot" and "homo", use "gay" as a derogatory term, and make demeaning jokes about gay people behind their back.

      Commenter
      Witters
      Date and time
      April 11, 2014, 1:31PM
    • @Witters

      That is complete nonsense. Christians are, on the whole, totally non-accepting and prejudice towards gay people. Try and get a job with a christian organization if you appear or are openly gay. You will be discriminated against EVERY time regardless of how competent you are.

      Commenter
      Helen
      Date and time
      April 11, 2014, 1:47PM
    • Speaking as a gay Christian I can confirm that it is extremely difficult sometimes.

      Having said this, just about everyone in the church I've come out to over the years has treated me well. I haven't been called derogitory names, run out of church, abused or anything like that. My experience has shown Christian people (by and large) want to do the right thing, but they only know what the Bible says. So there is a great deal of ignorance there, but not hurtful hatred.

      People outside the church are just as ignorant on the subject. The pro-gay lobby has screamed so loudly that everyone's been convinced there's a gay gene when to date, none has been credibly found. Not saying there isn't one, just that there's more to learn. Anyone who says anything that doesn't support gay people 100% is shouted down so loudly, they aren't even allowed to finish their sentence, let alone express WHY they feel the way they do, thus becoming guilty of that which they accuse others of.

      Sitting in between all of this, the single biggest thing I've noticed is most people haven't got a clue what they're talking about, but act like they do. It's become such a heated issue that calm, rational, helpful discussion (irrespective of one's beliefs) is virtually impossible, which is incredibly sad.

      So please, everyone, no matter how you feel about it or what your beliefs are, try to remember that you're talking about real people in real pain and sexuality is NOT a simple black-and-white subject. It's incredibly complex and personal. You have one mouth and two ears and everyone will benefit by using the latter lots and the former little.

      Commenter
      DrewsTurbo
      Location
      Hills District
      Date and time
      April 11, 2014, 1:55PM
    • Unfortunately homophobia isn't reserved solely for people of "faith" (to use the most polite way to describe such hypocrites). Most of the homophobes I've encountered haven't set foot in a church in their lives and would only use a Bible as a doorstop.

      Homophobia and bigotry from any source is hurtful, ignorant and wrong. Address the whole issue, not just a subset of it.

      Commenter
      Decima
      Date and time
      April 11, 2014, 2:17PM
    • Please tell me one gay person who has peace !!

      Commenter
      kiwi
      Date and time
      April 11, 2014, 2:19PM
    • Young people using the worg 'gay' do not do it in a discriminatory way, well most of them anyway in the modern schollyard way of using it.

      Do not get hung up about words, but intent. One day its ok to use one word the next day not, no wonder people get confused about what the actual wrongness is.

      Commenter
      cokes
      Date and time
      April 11, 2014, 2:22PM
    • @witters

      "In my experience, it is Christians who are more respectful of gay people, and the non religious who are most likely to use terms such as "faggot" and "homo", use "gay" as a derogatory term, and make demeaning jokes about gay people behind their back."

      Non-topic but relevant to this topic and to your assertion: It is the good Christians who are not respectful to anyone or anything in my experience. Once "the good Christians" see something unusual or hear something unusual, they become scared and they backlash when they can. I have dealt with Christians who turn away from the Church and are still Christians inside and they're the ones who are cool. That's just my experience.

      Commenter
      Not_A_Normal_Man
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 11, 2014, 2:27PM
    • I'm gay, Kiwi, and I'm quite at peace, thanks for asking.

      Commenter
      Greg
      Date and time
      April 11, 2014, 3:02PM

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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
WAR vs STO 20:40AS
FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
BUL vs RED 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:55GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:55ANZ
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
RED vs HUR 17:05SS
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
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Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Hurricanes 6 6 0 0 85 27
Brumbies 6 4 2 0 73 20
Sharks 7 4 3 0 11 19
Chiefs 7 5 2 0 46 24
Bulls 6 4 2 0 24 18
Waratahs 6 4 2 0 36 18
Highlanders 6 4 2 0 22 20
Stormers 6 4 2 0 15 16
View all
 
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