Miranda Devine is notorious for her far-right op-eds that rile up the masses. That’s her thing. It’s what she does. Her latest piece sees her weighing in on the recent NRL controversy. If you’re not across what happened, 19-year-old Wests Tigers player Mitchell Moses was given a two-week match for referring to another player as a ‘fucking gay c-nt’.
This controversy comes at a time when organized sports around the country are attempting to clean up their act, so to speak. Homophobia isn’t cool any more – and even the slow adopters are finally starting to catch on. As so they should be. Just don’t tell Devine that. She writes that “he has been hit with a two-week match ban for making a ‘homophobic slur’ against Queensland opponent Luke Bateman. He did no such thing”.
So where is the justification for such a statement? What could possibly let “fucking gay c-nt” off the hook as being a blatantly homophobic slur? Miranda, you write that “gay no longer just means “homosexual”. The word has changed meaning over the last decade. Young people use “gay” to mean lame, or dumb or stupid, as in: “That’s so gay.” South Park even had an episode about it.” Putting aside the citation of South Park as some form of academic source, you’ve effectively defeated your own argument before it has even begun. Lame, dumb and stupid are not things that anyone aspires to be. They are certainly not a positive thing to associate with one’s sexuality. Yet here we find ourselves, in a context where that is precisely what is happening.
The culture of homophobia that exists within this country has improved massively in recent years, but it’s not a fight that’s anywhere near being over. The NRL should be applauded for the swift action that they’ve taken in attempting to curb such obvious vilification. Instead, we’re seeing absolute trite like this published. Words that will go out to when of the biggest audiences that print media can reach in this country. Words that not only marginalize the deeply personal struggle that comes with accepting one’s own sexuality, but also that seek to make a mockery of the intense trauma and stress that comes attached to dealing with homophobia.
Guess what? A lot of people watch football. That message was picked up by the referees microphone. Which means a lot of people heard it. It was a message that carried a very clear them: that being gay is bad. That “gay” is an insult you throw to someone you dislike. I could not care less about how much you claim the meaning of the word has changed over time. You ask a random stranger on the street what they think it means, and they will all say the same thing. In a society where same-sex attracted youths have such a higher probability of taking their own lives, that is a very dangerous message to be sending out to the masses.
The point here is missed completely. Homophobia doesn’t hurt straight people. At least not directly. You can be offended on behalf of friends and family, but when it comes to actual pain that it inflicts, that’s a burden to be held entirely by those identifying as LGBT. The fact that you even have the nerve to mention how devastating a two-match ban would be in the footballers career is so legitimately problematic that it genuinely leaves me lost for words.
Miranda, you are a heterosexual female. You pretending to understand the mechanics of homophobia is plain offensive. You trying to brush off the intense struggles of an entire group of people is ridiculous to the point of it being upsetting.
You are wrong. Plain and simple. You are wrong. Here’s why:
Calling someone a ‘fucking gay c-nt’ is homophobia. It’s homophobia at its most vile and destructive. It’s dirty and it’s low and it’s a bomb that is sent out solely with malicious intent, to denigrate someone based on their sexuality. It operates under the belief that to be a male attracted to another male, you are weak. That you are a lesser person. A lesser ‘man’. It’s bullshit. Plain and simple.
You know how I know this? Because I’m a dude who, until a few years ago, used to live in fear of people discovering my own sexuality. The notion of a pack of footballers running towards me and shouting “fucking gay c-nt” was the stuff nightmares were made of. It still is.
Because until you’ve had to throw a furtive glance around before holding your boyfriends hand while walking down a street, until you’ve had to deal with raised eyebrows for daring to kiss someone in public, or until you’ve felt such pure hatred pouring out from complete strangers for something that you never had any control over? You have absolutely no right to comment on the weight of those words, and the depth to which they can get under your skin.
Strength doesn’t come from running around a footy field, kicking a ball through some goalposts and tackling people. Strength is standing up, standing out and being proud of who you are – no matter how much society might insist on keeping you down.
Words by HARRISON CARTWRIGHT. If you want to discuss anything that’s been mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to drop him a line on twitter.
If you need someone to talk to, you can contact Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. Other great resources include Twenty10, a community-based not-for-profit that provides a safe-space for gender-diverse teens, and the It Gets Better project.