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Friday, 12 February 2010

Gay rugby banter taken out of context

Jonathan Thomas, forward for the Ospreys has now taken down his Twitter profile, I suspect because a load of people are screaming abuse at him for his innocent gay banter.

As an out gay man, I do say there has to be a line between banter and abuse.

It is okay for people to jump on someone for making a comment as Jonathan did but if you read it in the context of the group being friends including Nigel Owens himself, who was the butt of the joke, excuse the pun then it is just that, banter amongst friends.

Jonathan Thomas' team mate Ian Evans (who's twitter account is also down) had written on twitter: "Legs and ass are in bits, can't move" following a training session and Jonathan Thomas replied: "U gotta stop
hanging round with Nigel Owens!"

Nigel Owens is the Welsh referee who came out in 2007 and yes in his autobiography he revealed that he had once attempted suicide over his sexual orientation and had suffered discrimination.

However, there is a massive difference between discrimination and banter.

Nigel Owens said: "It's just banter, it's been taken totally out of context, I think people are sometimes losing their sense of humour.  I am disappointed that some people cannot see the humour in what people say."

He also added that he considered Jonathan Thomas a good friend and that the matter was now closed.
I know it has been hard for sportsmen and women to come out and Gareth Thomas has been a shining example since his announcement, but let us also realise that a bit of harmless banter is exactly what it is, harmless banter.

As someone who has suffered homophobic bullying over a length of time in my lifetime, I am also one of the first to engage in a bit of banter, gay and otherwise.  I know full well if I had put the comment on twitter that Ian Evans did, I would be under a deluge of banter from friends of mine, gay and staright, and that's exactly what it would be, banter, harmless but bloody funny banter.

Let's lay off the guys and get a sense of humour here everyone.  Jonathan and Ian, not all the gays in the village feel the same.

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