Come out of your closet, but stay out of others too.

Earlier this month this picture was the subject of some discussion on local radio and online.

For a long time the sexuality of Ian Thorpe, Hugh Jackman and other celebrities has been the subject of gossip and speculation.

Ian Thorpe has always maintained he is straight and Hugh Jackman also recently voiced his frustrations about speculation about his sexuality.

This kind of pressure from the Gay community on celebrities they think should come out or on whom we heap the weight of wishful thinking is hypocritical and should be the subject of serious self examination.

No matter how humorous posters and comments like these are intended to be, they are for all intents and purposes one of the many kinds of bullying that the Gay community fights against everyday, but which some seem to laugh or shrug off when we perpetrate it ourselves. I say “ourselves” because when this kind of thing happens it reflects on all of us.

Imagine for a moment you are a young man or woman with a partner, family, friends and a career. You are building a life for yourself and rightly regard your sexuality and personal and private.

Now imagine that every time you leave the house somebody at work makes a comment about your sexuality, somebody on the bus giggles at your appearance, somebody at your favourite restaurant asks if you are gay or straight, somebody on your facebook posts a picture of you with word closet above your head, somebody tweets “OMG he’s so gay” and on and on…

Now imagine this goes on for years,

and years.

Imagine how it makes you feel, or perhaps you don’t need to.

Perhaps you know what it’s like to spend years in the closet while people guess and speculate and comment about who you are. Perhaps you know what it’s like to live with the constant weight of having to justify who you are.

As Gay people many of us have lived this ordeal. We know how it feels. Are our memories so short?

Perhaps as Gay men we have forgotten that respect for your sexuality doesn’t come for free, we also have the responsibility to respect the sexuality of others gay or straight.

The actual sexuality of public figures like Ian Thorpe is private and irrelevant, what matters is the lack of respect that is being shown. Next time you find yourself joking about pearl necklaces remember what it was like when you felt the weight of having to constantly prove yourself.

Hoping a celebrity is Gay isn’t enough of a reason to bully them, and profiting from that speculation no matter how humorous it is intended to be, is insensitive to say the least.

Lets all exercise a little more empathy and respect for one and another.