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Gay cycling champion Graeme Obree warns gay athletes to stay in the closet

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  1. what a shame that he feels so insecure

  2. It’s funny how certain people are so self-deluded that they think their experiences are universal. Were Obree to say he has had a difficult time coming out, that would be fine; it’s his personal story and who can deny his personal experience. it is when he extends this to counsel others that I have to say to Obree: STFU, moron. You were gay AND an active sportsman … you just happened to be hiding in the closet. It may have worked for you, but it may not work for someone else. Don’t push your neurotic thoughts on other people.

  3. Basically someone who has struggled with his sexual orientation for years and admitted that he tried to kill himself because of this is saying that it would be better for gay sportsmen and women not to come out.

    His whole agurment is down to “It would be too awkward in the dressing room”. Well that seems like its good peice of advice there then!

    So no advice about coming to terms with your sexuallity, how there is support for you, that you shouldnt feel the need to attempt to kill yourself. NOPE! Just dont tell ppl your gay as they might think you want to have sex with them

  4. Living your life in shame and twice trying to kill yourself -v- someone taking the mic in the changing rooms.
    How can a professional, competitive athlete be so … Pathetic?

  5. It is his experience that scares him. I feel sorry for him. If you are not out you are only half alive or not even that. Denying yourself is worst kind of abuse-self abuse. I am father of 23 and 24 year old and a grand father and wouldn’t dream to be in the closet. I know the difference. It is called respect. Self respect. The only heritage I can give to my family.

  6. Dan Filson 30 Aug 2011, 4:25pm

    Clearly not comfortable in his skin yet

  7. Wow a lot of ire directed towards Obree. I feel sorry for him. We all handle our sexuality in different ways, its a shame he felt so closeted that he wanted to take his own life. I don’t think we should all be setting the rant against him, he was probably not surrounded by supporting people of felt he wasn’t going to be supported. As for his feelings about coaching, there might be an acorn of truth in that -plenty of homophobe parents around who wouldn’t dream of sending their kids to be coached/trained by an out man.

  8. I can see why he would think that…being a totally OUT Gay man who uses a ‘non Gay ‘ gym I know how it feels to be guarded in my behaviour while getting changed. But that’s MY experience and I wouldn’t put my choices or experiences on others. All through recent decades there have been brave Gay men and women who refused to have their freedom curtailed by others, who spoke out and refused to hide. I for one am in their debt and will always be grateful for their courage and determined actions. Mr. Obree has taken brave steps in coming out but he obviously still has far to travel in accepting himself as a ‘proud’ Gay man. If any man in a changing room environment see’s me looking at HIM then I ask myself, WHY was he looking at ME??

  9. Eddy - from 2007 30 Aug 2011, 4:32pm

    Mr. Obree reckons that an openly gay athlete would “always be worrying if other people were thinking, ‘Is he checking me out?’”

    But Mr. Obree is totally wrong to imagine he KNOWS what all other openly gay athletes would and would not be worried about.

  10. It’s a tough one. I know in my industry if you come out. It holds you back. I wish it didn’t. But it does. So I get what he is saying. But someone has to make a stand. Otherwise things will never change.

    1. But if you never come out then nothing ever changes.

      No-one wants to be the 1st.

      But if you compare the reaction Justin Fashanu faced to the reaction Anton Hysen faced, it’s clear that the situation is improving.

    2. Commander Thor 30 Aug 2011, 5:53pm

      Belling the cat. It has to be done.

  11. Pussy

  12. He needs to get into therapy, fast. Or if he already is, change his therapist. Bad advice he’s giving to others. It’s NEVER healthy to remain closeted, no matter the consequences. The more who come out, the better it will be. Barriers are never broken down by avoiding them and pretending everything will be better living a lie and living in fear. Unhealthy and damaging.

    1. yea… I hope he’s OK..

  13. What I don’t understand at all is how a closeted public figure (be they in sport or anywhere else) can ever have a serious long term relationship. – Living with someone (let alone marrying them) is effectively coming out.

    Are athletes and others seriously expected not to have meaningful relationships – as most of the world – straight and gay – understand them?

    That seems an intolerable sacrifice.

  14. Well maybe he simply wasn’t ready yet, but then as the book says, when it comes to outing yourself you have to feel the fear and do it anyway.
    I used to wait around for an imaginary perfect moment to come out the closet, when the planets were aligned and the birds were chirping in the trees and there’d be rainbows everywhere, and everyone would magically accept me as I was but eventually I realised I was simply procrastinating. People who are ok with it will be and those that aren’t won’t. The latter group may come round with time, but the only way to bring about that change is to stand up and be counted.

  15. This article speaks more about Obree as an individual than it does about openly gay athletes.

    Gareth Thomas, Donal Og Cusack and Anton Hysen who all came out while still playing are clearly more confident and comfortable in their skin than Odree is.

  16. Gay people hate themselves precisely because of the kind of vitriol shown on here in these comments. Until we actually show come compassion for his low self esteem we’ll continue this cycle forever. No pun intended. Show some heart and respect for someone we should be supporting despite his upsetting and offensive views.

    1. I have compassion for his low self esteem.

      But I also realise that his low self esteem (caused by his being gay) makes him a very unreliable person to speak out about being out in sport.

  17. 2 champers sips to being a diva 30 Aug 2011, 5:48pm

    This poor man’s comments are still mired in self-loathing. His admissions should have remained personal given the effect his comments have on perhaps someone in similar circumstances seeking role-models not mired in fear and anxiety. I wish you well Graham but get help.

  18. LISTEN BYCLIST, YOU SCOTMENS, AND YOU GERMAN SOCCER PLAYERS AND ALL PEOPLE WHO ARE GAY EVERYWHERE, YOU START KICKING ASS, YOU TAKE PROTECTION , WEAPONS LEARN HOW TO USE, THEM , PEPPER SPRAY IN YOUR POCKETS, KNIVES, AND WHEN YOU SEE MEN APPROACHING IN AN ASSAU;LT WAY YOU HAVE SOME ONE CALL THE COPS BUT YOU SELF DEFEND YOUR SELVES, AND DO NOT ALLOW HETERSEXUALS TO RUIN YOUR FUN AND HAPPINESS WITH EACH OTHER, THEY ARE JEALOUS OF YOU AND MANY OF THESE HETERSEXUAL MEN WANT TO SEXUALLY HAVE YOU THEMSELVES, AND THATS THE BOTTOM LINE , THEIR OWN RELATIONSHIPS DONT WORK AND THEY LEAD VERY UNHAPPY LIVES EVEN SOME OF WEALTHE BECAUSE OF NO REAL GENUINGE RELATTIONSHIPS AND FREINDSHIPS THAT ARE REAL , THEY FAKE EVERY THING, IN MARRIAGE AND OUT OF MARRIAGE, THATS MORE THAN SAD , AND THEY WANT YOU THE GAY COMMUNITY WHO ARE WONDERFUL ROMANTICS AND GET ALONG WITH EACH OTHER WELL , INSTEAD OF BEING MONSTER LIKE MANY OF THEM , THEY GET JEALOUS OF YOUR PEACE AND FUN LOVE LIVES, AND FRIENDSHIPS , IITS ALL

    1. Er, no, that’s why they are called “heterOsexuals” (sic) – because they don’t want to have sex with their own gender. To claim that all homophobes are secretly hankering after other men is just silly. It’s not desire but fear and insecurity that drives them, and they need to get over themselves.

  19. LISTEN CYCLEIST YOU DONT LET THOSE HETERSEXUALS TELL YOU ANYTHING, BU;LLYS THEY ARE DEMONS OF HATE AND WHAT THAT FEW WANT YOU TO DO IS WIMP OUT AND DOWN, AND YOU DONT DO IT , YOU COME OUT AND GO OUT AND OPEN GAY SUPPORT GROUPS A;ND ORGANIZATIONS, AND THE OTHER GAY STUDENTS AND SPORTS PEOPLE YOU FORM YOUR ON SPORTS GROUPS AND FREINDSHIP BONDS, THE GERMAN SOCCER TEAM YOU PLAY THE OTHER ALREADY OUT GAY SOCCER TEAM , AND FORM OTHER GAY SOCCER TEAMS AND PLAY OTHER GAY PLAYERS WHERE IT IS SAFE FOR YOU YOU GET YOUR GAY ALLIANCES GOING IN THOSE COUNTRIES IN SPORTS AND IN YOUR SCHOOLS AND HANG OUT WITH OTHER GAY STUDENTS THERE ARE MANY YOU DONT NEED TO HANG OUT WITH A HETERSEXUAL THAT DOES NOT RESPECT YOU , THATS NOT A FREIND, A FRIEND WILL TELL A BIGOTED HETESEXUAL TO KISS THEIR ASS BECAUSE THEY LOVE YOU ANYWAY, THATS WHAT I DID IN SCHOOL , I STOOD UP FOR KIDS WHO WHERE BULLIED AND CALLED NERDS AND SOME OF THE BULLYS DID NOT LIKE THAT , BECAUSE THEY FELT I SHOULD HAVE BEEN HANGING WITH THEM

  20. for gods sake we are in 2011 it not the rack ages when sportsmen were all macho and gay guys were all made to look camp like on are you being served.

    we are all one of a kind, if u were not happy with coming out then stay locked away but don’t preach to others telling them to hide away.

    just hold your head high and be a man

  21. A traitor to LGBT equality if ever there was one.

  22. Deeside Will 30 Aug 2011, 7:22pm

    “…and said he had twice to kill himself over his struggle to accept his sexual orientation.”

    Has a word been missed out here, or has he been reincarnated twice?

    I think the attitude that he’s afraid of, although not dead yet, is definitely moribund. The more people come out, the more its demise will be hastened. I’m not a member of a football or other sports club myself, but I have straight friends who are, and they’re nothing like that at all.

    1. My concern reflects some mentioned previously I.e. If he’s so unstable and unbalanced to contemplate suicide, he is not in a position to recommend any course of action to anyone else. Sounds more like a plea for help.

  23. If Obree is a role model for LGBTs in any way at all, it is in how NOT to live. I’m sorry his personal life has been a failure, and dismayed he is determined to project his failures, self-denial, self-loathing, insecurity and isolation on to others.

    He’s a child of his time, and it’s unfortunate he discovered his sexuality at a time when it wasn’t possible to be out (homosexuality was still a crime at the beginning of his career in Scotland). He could do no other, understandably. But things are changing, slowly but surely. There is help out there for young sports players.

    He has nothing to teach. Being out isn’t easy, and indeed has its risks. That said, if you live your life in the closet – it’s a definite recipe for disaster, and you only have to look where it got Obree.

  24. Staircase2 30 Aug 2011, 8:36pm

    Bless him – what a dickhead though – to be putting his own insecurities out there on younger people is inexcusable…

    Thats exactly the sort of mindset that creates homophobic politicians in the first place.

    The fact that he thinks he shouldn’t be ‘out’ and in the changing room is complete bollocks! If anything were to be a ‘problem’ then it clearly hasn’t been WHILE HE WAS IN THE CLOSET! so how can it suddenly manifest itself when he’s not out?

    There is no logic inside the fear of being in the closet at all…..

    Bless him.

    Its time to wake up and smell the coffee, Graeme – and learn to love yourself like we all have to…(its a part of growing up)

  25. Fella – ride ya bike and get on with ya life. I’ve played football all my life – male environment, showers et al – NEVER have I had to change my behaviour. My behaviour is that of my teammates – get changed and play football. I’m there to play football. When I want action, I know where to go. Being gay is ultimately only an obstacle if you continue, in middle age, allow it to be. You know, some of us are incredibly happy just to get on with life.

  26. reasonablebystander 30 Aug 2011, 8:58pm

    Terribly sad that he feels this way. But its just silly too. Not everyone is a homophobe! Does he really think people are that bothered when changing in the gym? Ppl always check out others in the gym -not in a sexual sense but just because we’re all curious about how other ppl look… Nobody in a professional sport cares whether yr gay or not – theyre too busy focusing on their sport! Anyway, Gareth Thomas’ career has taken off massively since he came out. He’s had nothing but support from his teammates andr rugby league world; its a pity Obree doesnt take comfort from that..

  27. It may not have been so difficult for him if he didn’t have a wife (and children??) and wasn’t suffering from bi polar disorder.

    Plus a lot of the discrimination he faced in cycling was before he came out so what does that tell you.

    It’s incredibly sad that he feels this way but he can’t spread his fears to others.

  28. If others really did have a problem with it couldn’t the player just shower/change at the end of everyone else?

  29. Oh,well done,Mr.Obree.Way to single-handedly set back the ’cause’ for all gay sportspeople.Since the suicide of Justin Fashanu over a decade back there has been an active campaign to stamp out homophobia.And now Obree is saying,(’cause of his own less than positive story),that it’s ‘easier’ for other sportspeople to stay in the closet.Well,shame on you Mr.Obree.

  30. Jock S. Trap 31 Aug 2011, 8:33am

    This is just wrong. Not an example to set just because he is having problems with who he is.
    -
    In this case, it’s sounds like Graeme is having the problems not his fellow sports mates.
    -
    As for ““You’d always be worrying if other people were thinking, ‘Is he checking me out?’ ””
    -
    Why would you think that? If anyone was to say it would either be light banter or a chance to educate.
    -
    Sport needs to make it acceptable to be yourself and most sports in 2011 do. Prehaps Graeme should have learnt to deal with himself before making it public and making such damaging statements.

  31. Presumably, he is getting paid by the Sun for this tawdry piece of speculative rubbish which serves no real purpose. I am sure there are some gay footballers but I doubt there will be many; I haven’t heard of anyone who have since retired either.

  32. Obree needs to see a counsellor for his very obvious issues.

    It is wildly inappropriate for the Sun to be using a man with obvious (and admiitted) mental health issues, to offer advce about being gay in sport.

  33. What a terrible role model for young gay men.

    If its that hard being a gay sportsman than you should be trying to change it not cowering in a closet.

  34. It’s very sad that he feels this way, and sadder still that many people will seize on what he says rather than the rather more positive recent experiences of Steve Davies or Donal og Cusack.

  35. As has already been stated, we are all individuals, and our experiences shape our lives, so it is a shame that he has not fully come to terms with his sexualtiy and its impact on his sporting life. He should not advise others to not come out, it is a very personal thing.
    With regard to the changing room scenario, it is a shame he has said this, because it just backs up a stereotype, that if we see a naked guy we want to jump him, I go to the gym, and as far as I am aware nobody knows my orientation, and I have seen some lovely naked guys, but on the whole they are not nice to look at, so it is just peddling a blatant stereotype.

    1. “so it is just peddling a blatant stereotype.”

      Agreed Ian. What’s worse is when a gay person starts peddling that nonsense. He must have little to ponder if this is on his mind to worry about.

  36. Gay propaganda? No come out and join the gay groups that need your support to win freedom for all gays all around the world now. That includes all gay Christians and gays of all religions. We all have a chance to go free now, if you don’t come out now then maybe we all won’t be free later.

  37. ““You’d always be worrying if other people were thinking, ‘Is he checking me out?’”

    Er, Graeme, that kinda stops when you leave your teenage years. Move on.

  38. Agibsonallan 11 Jan 2012, 1:09am

    Saw the hard talk interview and as a gay man same age bracket and from the west of Scotland I have seen it so often.I on the other hand have believed the secret of life is contentment but still enjoyed your interview

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