Breakfast weatherman Matty McLean has made a simple but pointed response to Israel Folau’s controversial social media post which claimed “hell awaits” homosexuals.
McLean yesterday posted a photo to Instagram, of himself posing in front of a pair of angel wings that featured within a mural, along with the caption: “Angelic as Hell – sorry @izzyfolau”.
McLean’s post comes as Folau’s rugby career hangs in the balance, with the 30-year-old winger locked in a legal battle with Rugby Australia over his post, which claimed drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators would also go to hell unless they repent and turn to Jesus.
The popular TVNZ reporter has previously spoken out against Folau’s ultra-conservative and potentially dangerous views, after the sports star claimed last April that gay people were heading to “Hell…Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
When the matter was raised on Breakfast, McLean was visibly upset and spoke with emotion as he addressed Folau’s initial post and the impact his comments had on him.
“I try not to let these things get to me but it is really, really hard to watch people say those kinds of things, especially if you live your life as a really proud gay man,” he said.
“You cannot continue to stand behind religious views and spout this bigoted, hateful, homophobic speech. It’s really, really disgusting to see.
“It is tough to stand up as a gay man or woman…It is tough to stand up and say, ‘I am proud of who I am and I’m going to live my life the way I want to live my life’.
“And then [to] have people like Israel Folau stand there and say that you are going to go to hell because of the person that you are and it is really, really harmful to the thousands and thousands of people who look up to him and listen to him and idolise him.
“I always feel like we’re moving forward and then something like this will happen and we’re just going two steps back. I just wish we could get to a place where everyone can accept everyone for who they are and who they want to be.”
McLean has also previously explained the difficulties he encountered when he came out publicly in 2012, and spoken of his surprise at the positive feedback he received.
“Coming out to my dad was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” he said in a 2013 interview with the Australian Women’s Weekly.
“I didn’t want to let him down, but he said he was disappointed. Not in me, but he was upset I was going to miss out on things like getting married and having kids.”
That discussion prompted McLean to throw his support behind the marriage equality campaign in the hope that his father could one day watch him get married.
McLean made a submission backing the Marriage Amendment Bill and later read it before the select committee.
The process ultimately helped bring him and his father “closer than ever” and McLean says his decision to publicly back the cause was his way of helping to support others struggling with acceptance around their sexuality.
“I thought if I could make one little bit of difference, then it would all be worth it,” he said.
“I went through high school knowing I was different and feeling the difference.
“If kids at school knew they had the same rights as everyone else, it would make them feel so much better about themselves.
“All my friends and family have always known. But I would hope being gay isn’t the most interesting thing about me. I don’t want it to define me.”