Sometimes it can be wise, to use a sporting analogy, to let some things go through to the keeper.
I know there are some LGBTI activists who will ardently disagree with me on this. I’m not saying homophobic comments shouldn’t be called out — I believe they most certainly should. Always. But we also need to afford people a little space and time to change their mind.
This week correspondence doing the rounds from the Rainbow Flags Over Rainbow Court Arena campaigners left me feeling a little uneasy. Amid all the frenzy this week about Margaret Court and her less than enlightened remarks about homosexuality, Martina Hingis’ name came up in a press release for comments she made in 1999 about French tennis champion Amélie Mauresmo.
So the story goes, the international tennis press was in a frenzy over Mauresmo’s coming-out ahead of the 1999 Australian Open. Before she was about to do battle with Mauresmo on the court, Hingis told a press conference that “she’s half a man” in reference to her famous upper body strength, and the fact that she had a girlfriend.
It was stupid remark, I don’t deny that for a second. But Hingis made her comments well over a decade ago — she was still a teenager at the time. The world (and hopefully Hingis) has changed a lot since then.
I understand Hingis was fairly unapologetic for her remarks at the time, which doesn’t bode well, but whether she still has a problem with someone because of their sexuality, we don’t know. That’s the point.
I will underline this point with a great confession of my own. When I was a teenager, in a school discussion about former Prime Minister John Howard’s gun control reform, I was against him. I shudder to think of this now. But it was context — I grew up in a rural area where my point of view (at the time) was widely shared.
I hasten to add the use of Hingis’ comments by the rainbow flags protestors to prove a point was a tiny throwaway line. It’s a small thing but I think it has wider implications. Some care should be taken that when justifiably flying off the handle at anti-gay remarks, others aren’t unfairly appointed to the same league.
Margaret Court’s comments speak for themselves. Unless someone has shared their recent thoughts, it’s unfair to assume someone holds the same view as a decade ago.