October 21, 2017

Gay Persecution in Egypt Are Making Many Decide to Leave Their Country

Hamed Sino left and  Firas Abou Fakher right, in Beirut 2016 (Husein Malia AP)

For Mostafa, a gay Egyptian man in his mid-20s, seeing rainbow flags flying at an open-air rock concert in the Arab world's most populous nation was thrilling. But he had a feeling it wouldn't end well.
Dozens of people have been arrested and put on trial in Egypt in the ensuing crackdown. Some were also beaten and subjected to invasive physical exams, spreading panic in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender circles.

Many of Mostafa's friends are deleting their profiles on cellphone dating apps and scrubbing their social media accounts, which police have long used to ensnare people suspected of being gay or transgender. Some who were at last month's concert have gone into hiding. There has even been talking of fleeing the country.
"The problem is that no one can tell the limit of this crackdown and how far it might go," said Mostafa, a community activist who asked to be identified by one name, for fear that he too might be swept up by police. "There was an incredible amount of hate speech by the media and by people on social media. Everyone I know is depressed and fearful."
It's not the first time that the Egyptian authorities have gone after gay and transgender people. In one particularly notorious case, 52 men were put on trial at once after a high-profile raid on Cairo's Queen Boat nightclub in 2001.
The “Arab Spring” uprising that toppled Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak a decade later brought some respite for the city’s embattled LGBT community, whose members were able to socialize more openly at house parties and bars.
But that respite came to an abrupt end after the military takeover that brought President Abdel Fattah Sisi to power in 2013. Hundreds of gay and transgender people have been rounded up, part of a broad crackdown that has seen political dissidents jailed, public protests harshly put down and the country's once vibrant civil society quashed.
Still, human rights activists say the scale of this latest assault on Egypt's LGBT population is unprecedented. At least 65 people were detained around the country in three weeks, according to a local rights group, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. Of those, 20 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to six years, and four were released. Cases against the rest are pending.
Almost every day brings word of new arrests, according to the group's lawyers, who are scrambling to keep up with the caseload. 
They include Mohamed Alaa, a 21-year-old law student who was photographed at the concert waving a rainbow flag, and Sara Hegazy, 28, the only woman identified so far among the detainees. Both are being questioned by state security prosecutors who usually investigate terrorism cases.
Homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, but authorities there has a history of using a 1961 law that prohibits "debauchery" to target the population. The accusations against Alaa and Hegazy are more serious. They include membership in an illegal organization, a charge also used against the government's Islamist opponents.
"The Egyptian authorities tend to view the challenge to authority in any sense in a deeply uncharitable fashion — and seem to have interpreted the raising of the rainbow flag very much in that way," said H.A. Hellyer, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.
The crackdown began after a Sept. 22 concert in Cairo by the Lebanese indie-rock group Mashrou' Leila, whose lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is one of the few openly gay performers in the Middle East.
It was a special show for the band, which was twice barred from performing in Jordan over accusations of not respecting the country's traditions and beliefs. More than 30,000 people attended, and several of them raised rainbow flags.
"Cairo! This was one of the best shows we've ever played!" the band said on its Facebook page. "So much love!"
Excited fans shared photographs and video of the rainbow flags on social media. The backlash was swift and brutal.
Influential TV talk show hosts and newspaper columnists denounced the flag wavers as "sexual deviants" and suggested they were part of a foreign-backed plot to destabilize the country.
Al Azhar University, the center of Islamic learning in this mostly conservative Muslim country, said it would be organizing sermons and lectures to "fortify youth against these deviant thoughts." St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral announced a conference on what it termed a "volcano of homosexuality."
Responding to the public outcry, Egypt's top prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, ordered an investigation into the flag waving.
Days later, Egypt's media regulatory body issued an order prohibiting coverage that promotes or legitimizes homosexuality, which it labeled a "sickness and disgrace." It also barred homosexual people from appearing in the media, unless it is to repent. The pro-government musicians union announced it would no longer issue permits to foreign performers unless they obtain a security clearance. 
"Perhaps certain officials are embarrassed that they didn't catch this beforehand," said Timothy E. Kaldas, a nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington. "It's not exactly hard to know Mashrou' Leila's politics on LGBT issues … and they approved the concert."
"The question is," Kaldas said, "to what extent is this the government responding to pressure, and to what extent is it also an opportunity to distract the population from its other failings?"
Despite signs of economic revival, the cost of living has skyrocketed in Egypt, and salaries and pensions have not kept pace. Unemployment remains punishingly high, especially among the young; corruption is rampant, and terrorist attacks are on the rise.
The first suspect was taken into custody the day after the concert. Police used a fake profile on a dating app to lure the 19-year-old man to a place where officers were waiting, then searched his phone for incriminating material.
"By coincidence, they found photos of the concert," said Dalia Abdel Hameed, who heads the gender program at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. "So they spun the narrative that they had arrested him as one of the flag bearers."
He was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of debauchery and inciting debauchery.
"Most of the people arrested had nothing to do with the concert or the flag," Abdel Hameed said. "These were men who were frequenting gay-friendly cafes or using dating apps or sometimes even arrested for looking or acting too gay in the street." Alaa and Hegazy were tracked down a week later through images from the concert shared on social media.

In a poignant video posted before his arrest, Alaa expressed dismay at the vitriolic response to his gesture, including death threats from his home village. Though he is not gay, according to his lawyers, he said he had borrowed a flag from another audience member to support the band's lead singer. (The video has since been taken down.)
Hegazy, who denies she was one of the flag wavers, told her lawyers that she was sexually harassed and beaten in a holding cell on her first night in custody after police informed fellow inmates about the reason for her arrest.
At least five men were subjected to anal exams to determine whether they had had gay sex — a practice that leading rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say amounts to torture.
The five members of Mashrou' Leila were on a plane bound for the United States when news broke about the arrests. At first, they said, they stayed silent out of fear that a statement from them might further inflame Egyptian authorities. But on Oct. 2, they issued a statement denouncing the "demonization and prosecution of victimless acts between consenting adults."
"It is sickening to think that all this hysteria has been generated over a couple of kids raising a piece of cloth that stands for love," the band said.
Mostafa, the gay activist, is wondering whether the time has come for him to leave Egypt. Many gay and transgender people who have the means have already done so.
But for all the hatred directed against his community, he said, there has also been an outpouring of support on social media.
"That would not have been the case a few years ago," he said. "Despite the tactics becoming more brutal, there is dialogue around the issue."

A special correspondent in Cairo contributed to this report.
Twitter: @alexzavis

How Old Are You, 90 and No Love? Jonathan The Gay Tortoise Found Love at 186

This tortoise proves you can find love even at 186 years old 

The world's oldest tortoise is discovered to be gay
Jonathan, the world's oldest gay tortoise 
The world’s oldest tortoise is in a relationship with a younger reptile, and it turns out that tortoise is a male.
Jonathan, who is 186 years old, has been in a relationship with a fellow tortoise Frederic for the past 26 years.

Jonathan, the tortoise icon

A resident of St Helena, a British Overseas Territory 1,200 miles off the coast of southern Africa, Jonathan is an icon of the island.
Given as a gift to the governor in the 30s, he features on the Saint Helena five pence coin.
Vets decided Jonathan needed a mate in 1991.
And it worked, ‘Frederica’ and Jonathan had enjoyed regular mating sessions every Sunday morning.
After three decades, vets now know why the couple never had young.

Vets find out Jonathan’s mate is a male

Vets repaired a lesion on a shell of ‘Frederica’, and it turned out the tortoise was a male.
So he’s been renamed Frederic, according to The Times.
Catherine Man, the island vet, said the pair were ‘creatures of habit’, eating and sleeping at the same times. They live off a healthy diet of vegetable titbits and vitamins.
Jonathan is blind from cataracts and has lost his ability to smell. However, the tortoise has retained excellent hearing.

St Helena’s fight for same-sex marriage

St Helena, which has a population of 4,255, is currently deciding on whether to legislate for same-sex marriage.
Earlier this year, a gay couple applied to get married as the law is unclear on the issue.
The Legislative Council asked the public for their opinions on marriage equality, with comments needing to be submitted by 27 October.
A Supreme Court hearing on marriage equality in St Helena is expected in January 2018.

Puerto Rico's LGBT Community and Families Still Trying to Survive In Their Island


LGBT Puerto Ricans who live in the D.C. area say their family and friends remain in a precarious situation nearly a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. commonwealth.
Lisbeth MelĂ©ndez Rivera, director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Latinx and Catholic Initiatives, on Monday told the Washington Blade that her parents who live in Caguas, which is about 20 miles south of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, still have no electricity at their home. MelĂ©ndez also said their water “comes and goes.”
Maria flooded her parents’ home and destroyed their deck and fence.
MelĂ©ndez told the Blade her parents have “been spending exorbitant amounts of money on propane for their generator, which” runs from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. She also said her mother told her a neighbor drilled holes into a large soda bottle, attached it to a broomstick and made a makeshift washing machine out of it.
“She’s very excited about this,” joked MelĂ©ndez. 
Alec Rivera, who lives in Montgomery Village, Md., with his fiancĂ©, told the Blade that most of his family lives in MayagĂŒez, Aguadilla, Cabo Rojo and Arecibo on Puerto Rico’s west and northwest coasts respectively. He also said he has relatives who live in Toa Alta, which is roughly 18 miles southwest of San Juan.
Rivera told the Blade that Maria “completely uprooted and damaged” the cistern at his great aunt’s house in Toa Alta. He said the hurricane largely spared his grandmother’s home, but electricity and cell phone service remain “spotty.”
Rivera told the Blade his cousin had a baby the day after Maria made landfall. He said she stayed in a hotel for more than a week after giving birth.

Situation ‘better’ in San Juan

Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico’s southeast coast on Sept. 20 with 155 mph winds. Hurricane Irma brushed the U.S. commonwealth on Sept. 7.
Puerto Rican officials say Maria’s death toll stands at 48, but this figure is expected to rise.
More than 80 percent of Puerto Ricans remain without electricity and nearly half of those who live in the U.S. commonwealth lack access to safe drinking water. Maria also caused significant damage to Puerto Rico’s transportation and communications infrastructure.
Victoria RodrĂ­guez RoldĂĄn, who lives in D.C., is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that urges Puerto Rico to allow transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. She is also the director of the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project.
RodrĂ­guez’s siblings and niece live in San Juan. She told the Blade on Monday that other members of her family live in Juncos, which is located between Caguas and Humacao in southeastern Puerto Rico.
“In San Juan, the situation is much better,” said RodrĂ­guez, noting the only way she has been able to communicate with her relatives in Juncos is via text message.
“I’ve managed to talk to most of them at this point,” she added. “There is no water or running water right now.”

Food and Friends donates to Puerto Rico HIV/AIDS group

Advocacy groups in Puerto Rico and in the U.S. mainland continue to provide assistance to LGBT Puerto Ricans in the wake of Maria.
A CenterLink campaign has raised nearly $20,000 for the LGBT Community Center of Puerto Rico in San Juan’s Hato Rey neighborhood. Food and Friends have pledged to donate at least $30,000 to Bill’s Kitchen, a San Juan-based organization that provides meals to Puerto Ricans with HIV/AIDS. 
“We are taking care of many people,” Bill’s Kitchen Executive Director Sandy Torres told the Blade on Tuesday in a short email she sent from her iPhone. “LGTB people always suffer a lot more. That is no different with the hurricane.”
Wilfred Labiosa, co-founder of WAVES AHEAD, an organization that works with at-risk groups in Puerto Rico, told the Blade on Monday during a telephone interview from San Juan that he and other members of his group have been able to reach Caguas and other cities and towns across the island.
“Some communities we have been to, we are the only ones who have outreached,” he said.
Labiosa told the Blade a trans woman was not given access to a cell phone to call her relatives in Arecibo when other people at the shelter in which she is “living” had access to one. 
“She was left behind,” said Labiosa. “That was solved in a few hours, but that’s the treatment.”
He also said some trans-Puerto Ricans are leaving the island in order to receive hormone treatment.

Trump criticism sparks outrage

Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico less than 16 months after a gunman killed 49 people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Nearly half of those who died during the massacre — which was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history until a gunman killed 58 people during a country music festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 — were LGBT Puerto Ricans.
Third Millennium Park, San Juan, Puerto Rico, gay news, Washington Blade
Six Flags with each color of the rainbow fly in Third Millennium Park in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 6, 2016. A memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre is also inside the park. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
President Trump sparked widespread outrage last month when he attacked San Juan Mayor Carmen YulĂ­n Cruz in a series of tweets after she criticized his administration’s response to Maria. LGBT Puerto Ricans with whom the Blade spoke for this story also mocked Trump for throwing rolls of paper towels to a crowd at a church in Guaynabo on Oct. 3.
“It’s going to take a federal government that is willing to acknowledge we are Americans, that Puerto Rico is part of the United States, that we are equal basically and a federal government that is willing to give Puerto Rico the ability to negotiate it’s debt in its current situation and to acknowledge this is American soil and part of American responsibility and be willing to do the same response that is going on in Florida, Texas and so forth,” RodrĂ­guez told the Blade as she discussed the federal government’s response to Maria.
MelĂ©ndez was more direct, noting a friend lives near the church in which Trump threw the rolls of paper towels.  
“She said her neighbors were pissed,” MelĂ©ndez told the Blade. “She lives in a town that is pretty conservative and pretty pro-statehood. Even then, they were like. I need water. I don’t need you to throw paper towels at me.” 

Caribbean activists launch relief efforts

St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the French island of Guadeloupe suffered significant damage from Maria before it made landfall in Puerto Rico. The hurricane caused widespread destruction in Dominica when it passed over the island nation on Sept. 18.
Irma caused widespread destruction in Barbuda, St. Barts, St. Martin, Anguilla, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos less than two weeks earlier.
The hurricane damaged an LGBT community center in Santo Domingo, Cuba, when it made landfall on the island’s north-central coast on Sept. 9 with 160 mph winds. Irma caused significant damage in the Florida Keys when it made another landfall east of Key West, Fla., on Sept. 11 as a Category 4 hurricane. 
Hurricane Irma damaged a portion of the Centro Comunitario de Cultura, an LGBT community center in Santo Domingo, Cuba. The activists who operate the community center continue to seek clothes and other items to help the area’s LGBT residents recover from the hurricane that devastated Cuba’s north-central coast in September. (Photo courtesy of Victor Manuel Dueñas/Centro Comunitario de Cultura)
Lavonne Wise, an LGBT rights advocate who works for the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix, which provides assistance to survivors of sexual and domestic violence, lives with her partner in Frederiksted on the island’s west coast.
Wise on Tuesday told the Blade during a telephone interview the island is “greening up again,” but the ground remains saturated from heavy rain. 
She said there has been “progress” in St. Croix, noting the federal government’s response to the hurricanes in the Virgin Islands has been vastly better than in Puerto Rico. Wise nevertheless said she and her partner have not had power at their home since Irma brushed St. Croix six weeks ago.
“It’s going to be a long road,” said Wise.
Maykel GonzĂĄlez, a Cuban LGBT activist and journalist who lives in Sagua la Grande, which is on the island’s north-central coast, said he has been unable to report from Irma-damaged areas because “the police threatened me.” He said he has nevertheless been able to speak with some of the areas LGBT residents. 
“This is the worst disaster of this type through which they have lived,” GonzĂĄlez told the Blade. “Some of them have suffered damages to their roofs.” 
“In Sagua la Grande there is transsexual prostitution in the area around the train station,” he added, referring to sex workers who worked in the area before Irma. “They have returned to ‘work.’” 
The Jamaica-based Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, which provides healthcare and other services to people with HIV/AIDS and other vulnerable groups in the Caribbean, and the Center for Integrated Training and Research, a Dominican Republic-based HIV/AIDS service organization known by the acronym COIN, are working to provide assistance to the hurricanes’ LGBT victims. The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality, a St. Lucia-based group, has also been working to help them.
Kenita Placide, the group’s executive director, told the Blade on Tuesday during a Skype interview from St. Lucia that four advocates from Dominica lost their mother during Maria. She also said the hurricane destroyed other activists’ homes on the island.
“Some of them have nowhere to stay,” said Placide.
Placide told the Blade that two activists from Dominica were able to travel to St. Lucia last week and attend a women’s conference the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality organized. 
She said activists from Dominica have been able to bring empty suitcases they can fill with donated clothes and other items that United and Strong, a St. Lucian advocacy group, and her organization have received. Placide told the Blade the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality has also been able to top-off cell phones in Dominica once her organization receives the numbers.
“It was better to send items,” she said, referring specifically to Dominica. “The country doesn’t have many things to buy, so it’s actually a better to send things to them in the country.”
Placide also told the Blade that people with HIV who live on the hurricane-impacted islands are also not able to access their medications.
“It’s definitely an issue. Even the tracing of the said persons are also very difficult because a lot of people are misplaced right now,” she said. “A lot of people lost all this medication and all access during the hurricane.”

Gay, lesbian 2018 Caribbean cruises scheduled

Trekr Adventures, a D.C.-based company that organizes sailing trips around the world, earlier this year organized an all-LGBT racing team in the 2017 BVI Spring Regatta in the British Virgin Islands.
Josh Seefried, co-founder of Trekr Adventures, told the Blade on Monday the company has raised more than $1,000 that it has given to two recovery funds in the archipelago. He said people from the British Virgin Islands who were at the Annapolis Boat Shows earlier this month described “complete devastation,” but added those who travel to them asked how they can support the recovery efforts.
Jim Cone, the vice president of marketing for Atlantis Events, which operates a number of gay cruises throughout the Caribbean, told the Blade on Monday the company is working with Alturi, an organization that seeks to promote further engagement on LGBT and intersex issues, and other groups “to provide much-needed relief to residents of the Caribbean, including San Juan” in Puerto Rico.
A cruise that is scheduled to leave Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 20 will stop in San Juan; Labadee, Haiti, and St. Maarten. A second cruise that is scheduled to depart from San Juan on March 18 will stop in Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique and St. Martin.
Cone told the Blade the cruise will dock in St. Martin as opposed to St. Barts because of “extensive pier damage” in the French island’s capital of Gustavia.
“We have confirmed that at this time, both our Caribbean cruises should be able to operate their full itineraries as scheduled,” he said.
A spokesperson for Olivia Cruises, a travel company that caters to lesbians, on Tuesday declined to comment. 
The company’s website notes a Caribbean cruise that will mark its 45th anniversary will leave Fort Lauderdale on April 2. San Juan and St. Croix are among the destinations that are listed.

Page  by Michael K. Lavers and Posted on Washington Blade

San Juan, Puerto Rico, gay news, Washington Blade
San Juan City Hall in July 2016. Gay and lesbian cruise ships are scheduled to dock in the Puerto Rican capital next year. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

October 20, 2017

Is Texas Gay Friendly? Depends Wether Live or Go to Dallas or Denton

AUSTIN — Dallas and Fort Worth remain two of the friendliest cities for LGBT Texans to live, but the rest of the region continues to lag far behind, according to national rankings released Thursday.
For the third year in a row, Dallas received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index, a nationwide survey that ranks cities based on how many local laws and policies foster greater acceptance for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. 
Fort Worth and Austin were the only cities in Texas to also get the full 100 points. The average score in Texas was between 40 and 41 points, far below the national average of 57. 

The nine other North Texas cities' scores either remained stagnant or lagged far behind Dallas and Fort Worth. Irving again received the lowest score both regionally and statewide, with 6 points out of a possible 100, and McKinney remained at 18 points for the second year running.
Plano got the highest marks in the region behind Dallas and Fort Worth, nabbing 74 points, the same score it received in 2016. And two North Texas cities saw large gains while still remaining below 50 points: Denton jumped from 35 to 44 points and Grand Prairie doubled its score to 24.
Texas grabbed national headlines this year as state politicians fought over whether to enact a bathroom bill to restrict restroom use based on biological sex. Widely criticized as a discriminatory measure meant to erode the rights of transgender men, women, and children, the bill died after more than 50 Fortune 500 companies publicly opposed it.

Another proposal that would give religion-based adoption companies more legal cover if they denied services to LGBT couples and children was signed into law. California officials cited the new law, which they called discriminatory, in banning further state travel to Texas.

The Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based LGBT advocacy organization, included Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio on its list of "all-star" cities that have passed local ordinances prohibiting LGBT discrimination, even as top state officials reject statewide protections.
Outside of the region, the only other city to increase its score was College Station, the home of Texas A&M University, which saw an increase from 6 to 18 points since 2016. 

Each city's rank was calculated by considering five categories:
Nondiscrimination ordinances: The presence or absence of local laws barring discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Municipality as an employer: Whether the city protects its LGBT workers from discrimination on the job and offers inclusive health care benefits.

Municipal services: Whether the city has a local "human rights commission" focused on LGBT citizens with a designated community liaison and whether anti-bullying rules are in place in schools.
Law enforcement Evaluates the relationship of the police force to LGBT citizens and tracks whether law enforcement reports hate crimes to the FBI.

Relationship with the LGBT community: How local leaders publicly express their stance on LGBT rights, and whether they push LGBT legislation.

HRC rated 506 cities this year, including all 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities and most-populous cities in each state, and the cities and towns with the states' largest public universities. In Texas, 25 cities were ranked.   Dallas News.  Lauren McGaughy

2017 Texas LGBT Equality Index

Australian Olympic Medallist Talks about Coming Out and Depression

Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe at the 10th birthday of the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, Ultimo, Sunday, August 27, 2017. Picture: Damian Shaw/AAPSource:News Corp Australia 

ONE of the most difficult things Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe has ever done was to reveal to the public in 2014 that he was gay.
The swimmer had already told his conservative Christian family about his sexuality and their reaction was to tell him they loved him, which was exactly what he needed to hear.
But there was one moment Thorpe knew he wasn’t going to turn back from making it public too.
As Thorpe started telling a people he was going to do a TV interview, he said some advised him to “take your time to get used to being gay”.
At the age of 31, Thorpe realized there was no more time to waste and he wanted to live his life with transparency.
“I realized it had taken my whole adult life to telling the closest people to me that I was gay,” Thorpe said. “And at this point, I’m not taking a step back into the closet.”
In a speech on mental health hosted by Procore Technologies and Mates in Construction in Sydney on Wednesday, Thorpe said there was only one factor that made him regret taking so long to acknowledge his sexuality.
“I really was uncomfortable with my sexuality, I didn’t want to be gay,” he said.
“(But) I wish someone had told me this earlier — in being out, you become an example that makes it easier for someone else who may be struggling.”
Thorpe spoke candidly about his own experience with depression and said he believes wrestling with his sexual identity contributed to his poor mental health.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that since I’ve been out that my life has felt like my own,” he said.
In fact, Thorpe feels better than ever.
“I didn’t realize that I could actually be well,” he said. “I thought I had to compromise on happiness — that I could probably only get to content and that’s kind of good enough.
“I didn’t realize that when you really work on it each day that there’s a possibility to live a really rewarding, fulfilling life, and a joyous life.”
Thorpe’s contentment has been hard-won and he is now worried about other Australians who may be struggling, especially as debate continues around the same-sex marriage survey.
Even though he is a prominent face of the Yes campaign, Thorpe said he was “sick of hearing about” the survey.
“I can’t get away from it (the survey), I hear about it and I’m sick of hearing about it.
“Imagine being that kid (in a family of No voters) and being isolated and being told that the way that you feel isn’t right.”
Even though younger generations are more accepting of gay relationships, Thorpe said they were still given a hard time.
“Right now if you had a 16-year-old at home that (said) ‘I’m gay’ ... would you tell them to keep it to themselves at school?
“What would be the advice you give them?”
Ian Thorpe (right) with his boyfriend Ryan Channing.
Ian Thorpe (right) with his boyfriend Ryan Channing.Source:Supplied
Thorpe said many families would probably counsel their children not to say anything to those at school because it would make their lives more difficult.
“Some of that still needs to be worked on,” he said.
When asked what people against same-sex marriage were so afraid of, Thorpe said he believes they don’t want change.
“There’s this shift in power at the moment and we have to make the decision day-to-day of what kind of world and what kind of society we want to live in,” he said.
“These decisions are happening now (and) they’re happening quickly.”
Thorpe also revealed he wasn’t prepared for the aftermath of his decision to reveal his struggles with depression in his autobiography This Is Me.
“I didn’t realize the toll it would take on me,” he said.
“I wasn’t prepared to then talk about being depressed with people ... constantly going over the same detail.
“If there’s one way, that really is guaranteed to make you depressed, it’s talking about being depressed.”
But Thorpe said he had worked really hard to feel well and to embrace his life again.
“I work on my mental health daily,” he said. “I’m not fearful of going into that kind of state again yet knowing my history, the likelihood is that it will happen again.
“But each time I’m faced with that, I have more tools to be able to manage that.”
Ian Thorpe being interviewed about mental health issues by Jeff McMullen at Procore Technologies lunch, held in conjunction with Mates in Construction.
Ian Thorpe being interviewed about mental health issues by Jeff McMullen at Procore Technologies lunch, held in conjunction with Mates in Construction.Source:Supplied
One thing Thorpe said made a difference to his life was allowing himself a day to feel down before calling his friends to ask for help.
“Once I’ve taken that control over it, usually by the time 24 hours is up, I don’t need the friends to come,” he said.
Thorpe has battled mental health issues since his teenage years and pointed out that diagnosis could also be quite difficult when athletes are training hard.
“The thing that becomes quite complicated in sport is working out why you’re exhausted,” he said.
“Is it because you have happened to have swum 120km in the last week? Or is it because you’re depressed?”
In tackling mental health Thorpe stressed the importance of encouraging an open, diverse and accepting society, workplace and community.
“Collectively when we remove some of the dignity that is in people’s lives and in their roles, we actually weaken the entire group,” he said.
The 35-year-old said his own career was proof that working as a team makes people stronger.
“For me, my best performances in my career were in relays,” Thorpe said.
“When you calculate my times in relays I should always have been able to perform better in individual races.
“But I could not find that for myself the same way I can find it for my mates.”
Ian Thorpe (right) celebrates winning Gold in the Mens 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Picture: Al Bello /Allsport
Ian Thorpe (right) celebrates winning Gold in the Mens 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Picture: Al Bello /AllsportSource:Supplied

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Gay Persecution in Egypt Are Making Many Decide to Leave Their Country

Hamed Sino left and   Firas Abou Fakher right, in Beirut 2016 (Husein Malia AP) For Mostafa, a gay Egyptian man in his mid-20s, s...