He won our hearts by winning gold, then by telling kids that Uncle Toby’s oats are fully sick and now Ian Thorpe is going to be welcomed at Sydney’s Mardi Gras Film Festival as a special guest.
With the days splashing in the pool long behind him, Thorpey will be making his first public LGBTI community commitment at the Film Festival.
Thorpe will be joined by five other sport stars, including Matthew Mitcham from diving, Sally Shipard from soccer, fellow swimmer Daniel Kowalski, basketballer Shelly Gorman-Sandie and former rugby league star Casey Conway.
They’ll be hosting a panel discussion about being elite gay athletes as part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival screening of OUT TO WIN, co-presented with ACON and Pride in Diversity on Feb 28 in George Street, Sydney. The film has been a noted as an important tool in highlight the problems with the exclusions of homosexual athletes in many sporting communities.
Other sports documentaries in the Festival’s Focus on Sport program include BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS chronicling the American diver’s career and retirement; Australian-made SCRUM following the players fighting to get a position on the Sydney Convicts Rugby Club for the 2014 Bingham Cup; and GAME FACE exploring the lives of LGBTIQ athletes including transgender lesbian MMA fighter Fallon Fox and basketballer Terrence Clemens.
ACON is the leading HIV-preventative, HIV support and LGBTI health organisation in New South Wales and are super stoked to have so many athletes on board for the festival that they’re presenting. ACON vice president Andrew Purchas explained the importance of Gay Pride in sport:
“Many of Australia’s sporting organisations are recognising positive steps need to be taken to ensure your sexuality, gender identity or intersex status does not impact your ability to play, watch or be involved with sport at any level.”
The festival’s director Paul Struthers is equally excited about the festival and this particular event:
“We are thrilled to host so many Australian sporting legends at our screening and highlight one of our key themes this year which is a focus on LGBTIQ and equality in sport… With the visibility of LGBTIQ athletes continuing to rise, and many deciding to come out during their careers, we are celebrating by presenting four excellent LGBTIQ sporting documentaries highlighting diversity at all levels of sporting competition.”
Struthers indicated that when it came to recognising athletes’ sexualities and being tolerant of this while they performed in the spotlight, Australian lagged behind it’s American counterparts. He acknowledged that the US are much more welcoming and inclusive of their LGBTIQ sporting stars. ACON and the festival directors all voiced hopes that the festival panel is a positive step forward for the Australian sporting community.
We’re looking forward to the interesting conversations that will be brought up by the panelists, it’ll defs be fully sick.
WATCH: Out to Win – Trailer
Tickets for all films are on sale now including flexi passes to 5 or 10 films. Visit queerscreen.org.au or the Mardi Gras Film Festival app to book or call (02) 9332 4938 to become a Queer Screen member for discounted tickets and priority entry.