The rugby world has a new debacle after seven players from Manly Sea Eagles refuse to wear a rainbow-hooped jersey for the NRL’s Pride Round against the Sydney Roosters.
Four years ago, I recall stating weeks after Israel Folau had tweeted several lines from the bestselling and most widely used book of all time, the Bible, that his reaction to the Lavender Mafia’s forced intrusion into the world of professional rugby would not be the only head raised above the parapet on this topic.
It would only be a matter of time, I said, before other voices would rise up against the intolerant demands of what I know personally to be the ever-bullying LGBTQ+ ‘tolerance-brigade’.
Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley are those other voices.
After the Folau debacle – and the multi-million-dollar payout – you would think that any rugby club engaged in a hook-up with LGBTQ+ politics would tread carefully into such a fragile relationship. But no. Rather than prepare its players through a prior open and robust discussion, Manly Sea Eagles’ management chose not to enter into consultation with its players before announcing the forced wearing of a pro-LGBTQ+ jersey.
This has never been merely about accepting and tolerating each other as neighbours, or even giving priority to celebrating the new cult on the block as now happens across our schools on Wear It Purple Day and IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia). No, this has always been about changing the entire social landscape into a sexual landscape, about indoctrinating – or, when dealing with LGBTQ+ ideology, bullying – every conscience to see and believe things through ideologues’ rainbow-tinted spectacles. Everyone and everything must conform. That is what I learned and taught during my time engaged at the heart of gay activism.
Former Sea Eagles’ player, Ian Roberts, rugby league’s first ever player to come out as openly gay, is understandably saddened by the seven players’ decision. “I try to see it from all perspectives but this breaks my heart,” Roberts is quoted as saying to The Daily Telegraph.
Many of my gay and lesbian friends are also saddened, not by the seven players’ decision but by the fact that these men and their own beliefs were never respected in the first place. Tolerance cannot be expected when intolerance is the demanded means of delivery. Let’s get real – this isn’t seeing situations from all perspectives.
The challenge we are presented with is this: what right does one group with its own beliefs have to bulldoze the rights of another group with opposing beliefs? Surely none.
If, as one ABC journalist stated, “there are rounds that support just about everything” in the NRL, then surely there should be no objection to a Christianity Round, or a combined monotheistic Judaism-Christianity-Islam Humility Round before or after any LGBTQ+ Pride Round. Would that be tolerated, I wonder?
The editor of Townsville Bulletin, Chris McMahon, wrote: “I don’t care if it derails Manly’s season, but if these flogs pull out of this game because of an inclusive jersey, they should be stood down for the season without pay. As a massive @SeaEagles supporter this is enough for me to almost pack it in.”
Wide World of Sports’ Matt Bungard said: “I don’t want to hear one single thing about ‘respecting other people’s opinions’ or using religion as a crutch to hide behind while being homophobic. No issues playing at a stadium covered in alcohol and gambling sponsors, which is also a sin. What a joke.” (Did Bungard just allude to homosexuality being a sin? Doesn’t this now require him being Folau-ed and dragged before a good ol’ Aussie kangaroo court?)
McMahon and Bungard are themselves guilty of hypocrisy.
Have they fully lived and embraced the LGBTQ+ lifestyle? Who knows?
Have they done extensive research into what same-sex attracted people inside and outside of the LGBTQ+ community think about the Pride-ing of everything from cars to underwear to mobile phone contracts? I think not.
If they had, they would realise that the assumptions, the intolerance, the insensitivity, the disrespect, and the forced indoctrination of the LGBTQ+ religion upon adults and minors alike is grossly distasteful to many across Australian society, including to a good number of members of the gay community who want to live quiet lives like everyone else.
If Roberts, McMahon and Bungard would like to take the time to sit down with those of us who experience same-sex attraction and who support the Sea Eagles’ Seven’s manly and courageous decision not to play, then bring on this deeper, more meaningful game. Let’s really see who wants to see things ‘from all perspectives’.
What is so scary about management entering into open discussion with its players, about citizens being willing to learn from one another, and about those with differing beliefs being open to admitting that each side’s beliefs may not contain the whole picture – whilst above all being tolerant and respectful of differences?
LGBTQ+ protagonists and their insidious bullying tactics – a cause to which I blindly gave my heart and soul as a younger man – demand tolerance and respect from everyone, even from those who are same-sex attracted and gender dysphoric but who do not share their same outlook. But woe betide if the same should be expected from them.
As a former gay activist and a committed Christian, I experience churches being tolerant and respectful of differences week in and week out, particularly welcoming the members of the gay community who have exited or are excluded, from within its ranks. The same humble attitude, however, has not even begun to be birthed among LGBTQ+ leaders who demand that every manager, sports reporter, and yes parliamentarian, bow to their golden calf of beliefs.
This isn’t about celebrating inclusivity. Even members of the gay community known to me are fearful of speaking out against such bullying tactics. But that is the whole purpose. Silence any opposing voice under the guise of ‘inclusivity’ and you end up with exclusive rights to anyone and everything.
Whether you agree with them or not, in an increasing woke world, we should be grateful to Aloiai, Saab, Tuipulotu, Schuster, Olakau’atu, Koula and Sipley for being male role models of resilience, of principle, of firm personal opinion to forlorn young men and women in the face of rising defamation, mockery, the possible loss of prestige and a working contract, and even the denial of playing a sport about which they are both passionate and damn talented at.
For Minister for Sport, Anika Wells, to quote Macklemore on her recent tweet – “it’s all the Same Love” – explains how deeply out of touch those who govern our land, who govern sport, and who believe they understand human sexuality really are. God bless the Sea Eagles’ Seven.
James Parker resides in Western Australia. He has worked alongside the world’s sporting elite and has served at differing senior levels of the Church across the globe. As a survivor of extensive childhood sexual abuse and having practiced as a gay rights activist, he is passionate about the godly restoration of men and women. He is father to one daughter.