“Why the hell did you think that because you were gay that you had to keep it a secret? Who gives a toss?”
Sir Michael Parkinson has revealed that’s what he told Ian Thorpe after his high-profile interview last July in which the Olympic swimming champion told the world he is gay and had battled depression and alcohol abuse.
“I know that a while ago maybe attitudes were different and certainly it (men’s swimming) is a butch sport … but it is sad,” Parkinson says.
“Why did he waste all that time feeling cut off – unable to be honest with himself and his parents and everybody.
“I think it (the interview) purged him of a great feeling of guilt. It is an indication of how Australia has grown up … that he has been accepted.”
Parkinson said he thought the interview “purged” Thorpe of feelings of guilt and that the sports star would be accepted for his sexuality within Australia.
At the time, Thorpe said he didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay.
“But I’m telling the world that I am.”
While he’s chatted to some of Australia’s finest names including Bob Hawke, Shane Warne, Clive James, Paul Hogan, Kylie Minogue and Dame Edna Everage it was none other than the late media mogul, Kerry Packer, that took the number one spot.
“It was a remarkable interview – a very frank interview,” Parkinson said.
But there was one who got away. Parkinson said he would have given his eye teeth to interview Sir Donald Bradman.
“He was a very sensitive man. His confidantes managed to convince him that I was a friend of people, like Keith Miller, who criticised him.
“He thought I would be an aggressive interviewer (and so he wouldn’t agree to be interviewed).”
Parkinson reveals the details of his conversation with Thorpe in Parky’s Favourite Australians which airs on Channel 10 tonight at 7.30.