(Blogmensgo, gay blog of September 4, 2017) On August 26, Welsh athlete Colin Jackson, double world champion and Olympic silver medalist in 110 meters hurdles, came out of the closet on the occasion of a documentary called Regnbågshjältar (Rainbow Heroes) on Swedish TV.
Fourteen years after withdrawing from his active sports career, 50-year-old Colin Jackson leads a quiet life and works as a sports commentator for BBC.
Here is a small extract of his coming-out. The full-length report can be watched on the website of this documentary film.
He decided to go public about his homosexuality because the two interviewers (a gay man and a lesbian woman) convinced him that they were not looking for sensationalism.
The cons: More ball and chain than stepping stone
Obviously, an ex-athlete who only comes out of the closet after his active sports career does not really contribute a whole lot to the fight against homophobia in sports, and will probably not serve other athletes as a great example.
What is most objectionable in this story is the fact that Jackson had long denied being gay. Back in 2006, some British tabloids had already made his homosexuality public but he denied the accusations and made up a straight façade.
We think that it is only tolerable to force someone to come out of the closet if the person in question turns against LGBT community – which has never been the case for Jackson.
The pros: A rather difficult coming-out
An article by Louis Staples, published in New Statesman (August 29, 2017), casts a very positive and empathic light on the Colin Jackson’s personal coming-out story.
The linked document shows Staples’ full argumentation but here are the two most relevant points FOR Jackson’s late coming-out.
Firstly: Jackson was born in 1967, which was exactly when homosexuality was finally exempt from punishment in England and Wales. He was only 20 years old in 1987 during the big AIDS crisis.
Secondly: We cannot expect more celebrities to publicly come out of the closet but at the same time, make sarcastic comments about those who do come out, no matter whether they do it sooner or later in their lives.
So should we report someone’s coming-out even though it comes late and after a long time of denial? Yes we should, and we should do it in a friendly and empathic way.