Thursday, 11 February 2010

Today's gay rugby news

Welsh Rugby Union, eh? A sport leading the way in its acceptance of openly gay participants. Who'd have thought it?

The biggest event, of course, was the coming out of Gareth Thomas, former Wales captain, record Wales try scorer and all-round Valleys legend. But now we have what seems something of a setback.

Jonathan Thomas, playing at lock for Wales on Saturday, tweets something suggestive about another recently-out participant in Welsh and international rugby, referee Nigel Owens. His comment has been deleted, but he made reference to a fellow player's fatigue and aches being down to the sexual prowess of Mr Owens.

He was made to apologise by the Welsh Rugby Union and was condemned as homophobic by that even higher authority, Peter Tatchell. But this is very much a game of two halves.

Owens protested that this was merely a bit of teasing banter between friends - he and the two players are good mates apparently - and in no way should be seen as homophobic. This view appears to have been shared unanimously by commenters on one of a number of gay sites that have been discussing the story: it's the sort of talk that often goes on between straight and gay friends.

And isn't it always a sign that the heat's gone out of an issue if you can joke about it, everyone joining in to have a good laugh? It seems to put the issue outside of the group, the laughter confirming that friendship comes before any differences. Given that most (all?) conversations that happen in rugby dressing rooms revolve around banter, wind-ups and piss-taking it's probably the ultimate sign of acceptance that gayness becomes just another source of wise-cracks.

I remember at university in the early '90s the FA and the German football association cancelled a Germany-England friendly as the date the teams were due to play happened to be Hitler's birthday. The German and British students felt so incensed that that tyrannical corpse could still spoil people's fun that we played our own match instead.

All the old jokes came into play: the Italian student changing sides at half time; Americans not being allowed on until the game was well underway; it all ending in penalties (which, of course, the Germans won); and so on. Lots of much sicker jokes were also made but a fine time was had by all. Why? Because we were friends and our nationalities only mattered to the extent that they pointed up amusing differences or an opportunity to be tasteless.

Anyway, I think Jonathan Thomas (right) got a bit more than he bargained for. I hope it doesn't put people off from having a bit of innocent banter - it helps the world go round. He may also have got more than he bargained for in other ways: it seems he's now being talked of as 'kind of hot'. I guess the invitation from Attitude is in the post? It's the least he could do (in fact, I hope someone sets up a Facebook group).


worm said...

...and lets not forget that a name like John Thomas is probably like catnip to the gay community

Gaw said...

You should see him in his scrum cap.

worm said...

my younger sister is currently into Lee Byrne, apparently he is 'well phwoar'

Sean said...

Peter Tatchell. the Pope of Gayness! and like the Pope someone you pretty much disagree with but cannot help respecting. (And not a well man it seems, for his pains)

After the Hillsboro' disaster there was a lot of jokes and still are about the disaster. Its easy to be disgusted and angry about such words and thoughts, but Humans deal with adversity with humour its what makes us human, the ability to turn reality into the abstract and to turn the abstract into reality.

As a goodish Catholic boy I am sure there are many gay people who see Peter in the same way as I see the Hitler youth. A few beers certainly help.

Gaw said...

Worm: My missus is a fan of the French Rugby team. And I can see she has a point.

Sean: Tatch has become a bit of a national treasure. I hope he recovers.

I do wonder whether rugby is going to become a sport with a major gay following. When I googled for commentary on gay blogs I noticed there was quite a bit of interest in rugby. And why not?

My mate lives down near Wimbledon and he went into a pub near the common before an England game last year. He said it was packed out with ladies who'd just lunched well and were looking forward to the match. He reckoned the buzz was quite dizzying. He made his excuses and left fearing what might happen at full time when they'd all got another bottle of Chardonnay in them.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Good heavens, whatever next. Congratulations to the Welsh rugby community for taking this all in their stride. This is a verse my father used to recite, I've no idea where it comes from:

Amongst men you play rugger you'll scarce find a bugger,
Nobody fondles the bum in the scrum,

Brit said...

Come off it, rugby is and always has been screamingly gay.

malty said...

Odd that, rugby and the straight community. Dare I would not, ask in the Greenyards clubhouse why it is that so often, Cher can be heard belting out a song over the grounds pa system, and why, frequently, Robbie B... is seen sporting his wifes twin set and pearls.
Furthermore when Doddie W... left and went to play for the Falcons his parting words were, allegedly, "that's it, never again, Red Indian outfits!!, no, no."

The father of one of my daughters friends who, incidentally, has booked his graveyard plot, next to Bill McLaren's, took it personally when I once innocently inquired about the game and its relationship to the gay community, he was not amused, a reaction that as ever has one looking for a deeper meaning.

Gaw said...

Gadjo: Is that all you can remember or has it been censored?

Brit: I don't think so but if it had it would surely be gruntingly gay.

Malty: The issue hardly figured at all whilst I was playing. Except for the one bloke who used to not enjoy playing much but did seem to take a great interest in the showers when the U-17s were playing. Everyone knew what he was about but no-one ever thought to mention it.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gaw, no, that's how my father used to recite it and I believe thats's it in its entirity! Unfortunately I've been totally unable to locate it with Google.

Brit said...

Rugby is gay in the way that the movie 300 is gay, rather than the way that Gok Wan is gay.