Eddie McGuire has apologised for his comments which have been branded homophobic and indicated he would appear in an anti-homophobia campaign, IDAHO.
Speaking today to Melbourne gay radio station JOY, McGuire said the remarks were a ‘pisstake’ about figure skating costumes and not directed at Johnny Weir. He defended his own track recording of supporting the gay community and noted that an Anti-Discrimination complaint would “whack” someone who was “on their side.”
“It was a gag. Whether it was a good one or not that happens all the time in live television but it certainly wasn’t aimed at or construed to be homophobic. As I’ve said it’s very easy to say ‘If anyone was offended I apologise.’ Obviously people found it offensive and I apologise, and I’ve said that all the way along. I notice that Gary Burns said yesterday that I should apologise. Hey, I apologised because there was no intent to hurt anyone, so if there was any hurt or anything tlike that -100% taken back,” he said.
“If they’re looking to whack anyone I really think they’re going to be whacking the wrong bloke because I’m on the side of good on this one.”
McGuire referred to the story as being driven by online media site Crikey,
“I’ve spent a lot of time since the furore that came out a day after, and no-one seemed to worry about it for a day and then suddenly one gossip column in an internet forum decided to go for it, but what is interesting here is that whole situation with Mick was in a comedy scenario where we were joking about the costumes,” he said.
“At no stage did we have a go at Johnny Weir. In fact if you have a listen to the segment we say how wonderful he is and how we supported him.
“There’s been a lot of hoo ha here,” he said.
“The comments we made were about the costumes. We were laughing at the curling comments which were worn by… I don’t know if they were gay, straight or anything else but we were laughing at the costumes and they were flamboyant costumes. There was no attacking anybody in regards to their sexuality.”
McGuire said he had been hurt by the reaction to the incident and consulted afterwards with gay friends, and gay television executives.
“I spoke to Brian Walsh who’s the head of Foxtel and said, ‘Brian sit down, watch this, watch it on your own, come back to me, what did you think?’ He said, ‘Look you’re right it has been blown out of proportion,’ he said, ‘look that might have been a bit touch and go, but maybe in a Tonight setting.’
“I said ‘It was in a Tonight setting, because we brought in an audience, Mick was there, it was absolutely a pisstake segment if you like, not commentary on the games itself, let’s have a look at some of the funny things that are going on here….'”
A Foxtel Press Release branded the remarks homophobic and contributed to an ice cold war with its join Olympic partner, the Nine Network.
“Bad luck for me, but I’ve been bruised and hurt by this. Not personally, but the last thing on God’s earth I want to be is any sort of poster person for any discrimination against gays. I am so the opposite. Every sinew and everything I stand for is for looking after minority groups,” he said.
But McGuire said he “half-welcomed” the Anti-Discrimination complaint but hopes to find a mediation and avoid fronting the ADB in Sydney.
“Where I’m concerned is that I don’t want any rednecks or real homophobes to be able to try and trail in behind any comments that I made or Mick made an then defame people or attack them in a vicious way,” he said.
“The term homophobic’s been thrown around. I think Gary Burns in Sydney’s got to be a little bit careful on the way he goes with this and villifies people just because he has a different take on what was said. I mean ‘Homophobia’ means you have a phobia of homosexuals that is you’re either frightened of them or you fear them, or you hate them. That’s a big, big call.”
He also noted his previous efforts to support gay representation in sport, and happy to stand up and have his track record compared analysed. He hoped people would remember some of his other achievements.
“…he was the bloke who really pushed hard when HIV was in football, he’s got letters from the various gay lobby groups saying he did more in 20 minutes on The Footy Show than we did in 5 years of frightening the hell out of people with the Grim Reaper campaign, helped set up the Gay Magpies at Collingwood, and has had numerous people over the years say that he has been at the forefront of gay relations in particularly the television, showbiz world,” he said.
“I think Gary Burns has got to be a bit careful in going after people who are on his side. He doesn’t know me, he doesn’t know what I’m about. There’s probably good odds that I’ll get a pasting at the Mardi Gras.”
McGuire also said he was in talks with Johnny Weir, who has been reporting for Nine, to visit Australia and perform.
He also said he had previously explained to his children that he had diverse friends who visit his house and had received support from gay colleagues since the furore.
“I’m very conscious of 12, 13, 14 year old boys trying to work out where they are in life. And you don’t have to be gay to be doing that either. We have the biggest rate of youth suicide in the world per capita and it’s not just gay kids, it’s kids across the board.”
When asked about joining other celebrities and sports stars who have appeared in the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) campaign, McGuire replied, “I’d be the Patron if I could be involved!”
Channel Nine’s Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin appeared in the IDAHO campaign following a complaint by Gary Burns over a Footy Show sketch.
“I’d rather sit down with Gary Burns and work out a positive way to go forward,” McGuire said.
“I don’t want to have to go to Sydney and argue the point against people I actually believe in and want to support. It’s counter-intuitive and it’s counter-productive.”
But he also noted that he didn’t want any includion to be misconstrued as “Oh I might be in trouble so now I have to square up with my gay bonafides and things.’
“Look I don’t know much about IDAHO but I’m back next week so boys can you let me know?”