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Watch: Australian Olympic Swimmer Stephanie Rice Offers Tearful Apology for Anti-Gay Tweet

Rice

Australian medal-winning swimmer Stephanie Rice held a press conference yesterday to apologize for a tweet she posted ("suck on that faggots - probs the best game I've ever seen - well done boys") following a rugby game. The anti-gay slur in the tweet ignited a firestorm, and caused her to lose a major sponsor, Jaguar.

Said Rice at the presser

"My comments were thoughtless and careless but I can assure you when I made those comments on Twitter I never intended to offend anybody," she told a specially convened news conference in Sydney. I've learned a lot in the last couple of days. I've learned I must think before I speak and this has been a very important lesson. I've also learned that some things you say can mean more to others than they do to you...I felt I've let a lot of people down. I just want people to know how sorry I am. I'm just here to gain people's trust back and show how out of character it was."

Gay Olympic  diver Matthew Mitcham came to Rice's defense on twitter

"I agree, it was offensive & very thoughtless, but being friends with her for 2yrs, I know she is not homophobic...She meant no malice, & she has apologised for her careless comment posted in the excitment of the moment....That's enough for me to forgive a friend...She's not a homophobe. She luvs gays but used very ill-chosen language...I don't in any way support or condone WHAT she said, but her apology & remorse is genuine & we are gd friends."

Watch 10 News' report on the presser and their interview with gay former rugby star Ian Roberts, AFTER THE JUMP...

Roberts

Continue reading "Watch: Australian Olympic Swimmer Stephanie Rice Offers Tearful Apology for Anti-Gay Tweet" »


Australian Olympian Tweets 'Suck on That F*ggots', Loses Sponsor

Rice

Australian Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Rice, who won three gold medals in Beijing 2008 and holds the world record in the 400m indicidual medley, lost a major sponsorship from Jaguar over the weekend for sending out a tweet containing an anti-gay slur, Reuters reports:

"Rice, 22, tweeted 'Suck on that f--gots' after Australia's rugby union team, the Wallabies, defeated South Africa's Springboks on Saturday. The swimmer, who won both individual medleys at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was part of Australia's victorious 4x200 freestyle team, later apologized and removed the comment. 'I made a comment on Twitter on Saturday night in the excitement of the moment. I did not mean to cause offence and I apologize,' she wrote in a blog on her website. But Jaguar Australia general manager Kevin Goult announced that his company has withdrawn its sponsorship."

Along with the sponsorship Rice also loses a $100K Jaguar she had been driving. Her otter sponsor, Sunrice, criticized Rice's statement but made no move to withdraw.

The withdrawal of Jaguar's endorsement came after outrage over the tweet, which Rice deleted.

Perhaps the most vocal anger came from Australian gay rugby icon Ian Roberts.

Said Roberts: "She is an idiot . . . and anyone who continues to endorse her as an athlete is an idiot as well. And I say that with a very sad tone in my voice. What a fool. And if her sponsors don't do something about it, they're fools as well...Ialso like seeing Australians do well. But it is never acceptable to belittle gay people."

Mitcham Gold-winning Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham defended Rice from the criticism, saying he had forgiven her:

"I know she's not homophobic because we are good friends. It was just an extremely poor choice of words. Some people when they use that language don't realise they are causing offence. But it is an issue for a lot of gay people, who get quite upset about it because they have spent so long trying to change people's mentality about these things. I don't find that term very offensive because of my generation but other people do, and you have to consider everyone."

 


Athletes, Coaches Slam Remarks by Australian Footballer Telling Gay Players to Stay in the Closet

Australian sports figures reacted today to a column written by Jason Akermanis, a player for Australia's Western Bulldogs football club, telling gay players to stay in the closet because they won't be accepted.

Ian_robertsSaid the Rugby League's first openly gay player Ian Roberts:   

"At first I just laughed it off. But quite literally there are kids out in the suburbs that are killing themselves. It would be funny if it wasn't for that.  It's almost like that's the one area ... where people are still allowed to bash gay people, verbally or physically.  If he had said that about someone of colour or religion or someone of a genetic deformity, the public wouldn't stand for it. It almost gathers momentum ... and makes it more difficult again for people who are trying to find that peace within themselves.  For any young kid out there in the suburbs having difficulties with his sexuality ... all he (Akermanis) has done is totally burn that child.  And I mean that with all my heart. When I heard Jason's comments, it's almost like, what century are we in? Where is this guy coming from? Well I can tell him, I can promise him, there are people in his locker room who are gay - they're just not out. Ignorance is no excuse."

Said recently out former Olympic swimmer Daniel KowalskiKowalski  

"I'm disappointed, I'm mad, I'm angry, I'm sad. When you get comments like that from a guy of his stature, why would you come out?  It's disappointing more than anything. Jason Akermanis has always been known for being a human headline.  I'm at a loss because a lot of work has been done by Pippa Grange and the AFL Players' Association and there is support and it's continuing to gather.  He talks in a sense of 'we' like he's speaking for every player in the AFL."

Sydney Swans coach Paul Roos slammed Akermanis:

“If any one of our players happened to be gay or came out, he wouldn’t be alienated by this group of players, I know that. In today’s day and age, it’s reasonably irresponsible, what Jason’s said this morning and hopefully it doesn’t reflect the views of the majority of people in the AFL.  It’s a staggering story when you read it. If it had have been written in 1943 or something like that, you could have been forgiven. But in 2010, to hear something like that is just bizarre. I’d be staggered [if League CEO] Andrew Demetriou would think it reflects the wider views of the AFL, because that’s certainly not the case.”


Rugby Icon Ian Roberts Battled Slurs with Kisses

Ianroberts1

Gay rugby icon-turned-actor Ian Roberts is looking fantastic in the pages of the upcoming "Sex" issue of The Advocate, where he's featured in a cover story.

Ianroberts2_2Roberts discusses the difficulties of breaking into Hollywood, and goes into great detail about his recently-wrapped up involvement in trials surrounding the murder of gay teen Arron Light, which I've posted about here extensively.

Roberts also discusses his coming out in 1995, which was prompted by a "degrading" article in an Australian tabloid:

"I enjoyed the actual moment. It was empowering to be out. All the confusion that had been part of my life suddenly vanished. When the whole world knew I was gay, I wasn't angry anymore. It's a whole clash about what it means to be a man, about masculinity. People would say, 'You must be the exception to the rule [of what gay men are like]. You don't swish around, you're not a cross-dresser.'"

Also noted is the strategy he used when fans would shout "faggot" or "cocksucker" from the stands. He'd return the slurs with a wink, or something more direct:

"If anything, I took it as a compliment. If they were, by any chance, cute, I'd give them a cute kiss at some point during the game. It became a rugby league story—if you got kissed by me on the field, you weren't half bad to look at."

The issue hits newsstands on July 17th.

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Ian Roberts Cleared of Assaulting Ex-Boyfriend

A Sydney magistrate today cleared gay rugby icon-turned-actor Ian Roberts of any wrongdoing in accusations brought by a former boyfriend that Roberts had assaulted him when Roberts came to his hotel room to try and retrieve a laptop and a digital camera that were in the ex-boyfriend's possession.

Ian_robertsThe former boyfriend, Ben Prideaux, had his side of the story disproven by another friend and former boyfriend of Roberts, and apparently did not help his case by becoming somewhat hysterical on the witness stand. Said the magistrate: "I mean no disrespect when I say this: he tended to become agitated in the witness box."

It was a three day court case that stretched over a period of six months, and cost Roberts $100,000 he says.

PrideauxBut Roberts, who is now seeing someone identified only as 'Daniel', had only kind words for Mr. Prideaux following the decision.

Said Roberts: "I care about the boy very much. I am so not bitter with Ben. I love him, I have no bad feelings towards him whatsoever."

Roberts, who had a small part as one of Lex Luthor's henchmen in Superman Returns, says he'll now return to L.A. to continue pursuing his acting career.

Said Prideaux after the decision: "I am happy it is over.''

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'Big, cuddly softie' Ian Roberts in Court on Assault Charge

Ianroberts

Former rugby icon-turned-actor Ian Roberts appeared in court in Sydney yesterday to dispute assault charges made by former boyfriend, Ben Prideaux.

In the mix of this gay potboiler are a misplaced laptop computer, a sleeping stranger, a best friend who heard a different story, acting showreels, and an angry boyfriend who likes to scratch. It's a "he said, she said" story that Roberts says has been "a thorn in [his] side."

Roberts explained to a Sydney court that his former boyfriend was in hysterics at the time of the alleged assault after finding a stranger in Roberts' bed: "Ben still had not calmed down. It was a no-win situation for me...He was fanatical. He had worked himself up … I tried to calm him down. I said: 'Babe, it's me; it's all good.'"

According to Roberts' best friend, Prideaux called him following the incident and said that "Roberts was just a 'big, cuddly softie' and had not hit him."

The drama resumes, along with the trial, at the end of May.

Ex-league star 'fearful of scratches' [courier-mail]
Big softy Roberts a lover not a fighter, court told [sydney morning herald]

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