Opinion: It's not funny to pretend to 'come out' online

Australian cricketer James Faulkner at a dinner with his mother and a male friend.
James Faulkner (centre) originally called his friend Rob "the boyfriend" in an Instagram post. Photo credit: James Faulkner / Instagram

OPINION: An Australian cricketer received a swell of support after appearing to casually come out as gay on his social media.

As the recent drama with Israel Folau shows, it's still a significant issue to be gay in a professional sports environment. We still haven't had an openly gay All Black in New Zealand.

James Faulkner would have been the first openly gay male Australian cricketer.

But then there was an about-face.

His comment calling another man his "boyfriend", adding the hashtag "#togetherfor5years", was a "misunderstanding".

"Best mate!!!" he clarified on the original post. In a separate post, he elaborated.

"There seems to be a misunderstanding about my post from last night, I am not gay, however it has been fantastic to see the support from and for the LBGT community. Let’s never forget love is love, however @robjubbsta is just a great friend," Faulkner wrote.

"Last night marked five years of being house mates! Good on everyone for being so supportive."

No apology, no understanding, but at least he got good support from the LGBT community, right?

One of those 'supportive' comments has explained the issue pretty succinctly.

"The context of there never ever having been a gay professional cricketer, the fact it was deliberately worded as the announcement of a relationship, the fact it was a joke. That’s the difference."

Coming out is an incredibly difficult time for a lot of people. I've been out for more than a decade and I still get a nervous jolt in my stomach when clarifying "actually, girlfriend" around new people.

That's not even touching on what it's like to be out. My openly gay colleagues are mocked and called slurs when they're just doing their job - something their sexuality has nothing to do with.

People are still assaulted for being gay. I still get nasty comments, often sexual in nature, when I'm out in public with a female partner.

Unlike Faulkner, I am gay.

And to straight people, it's still a big joke.

Breanna Barraclough is Newshub's deputy social media manager.