The 71-year-old actress played matchmaker for her gay son.
We need to talk about Sally Field.
I know, I know; we’ve been talking about her for years. The Academy alone has gifted the 71-year-old actress and director with two Oscars, on top of the literally tens of other significant awards she’s acquired in her sterling career.
More specifically: We need to talk about her, her son – and the jaw-droppingly talented Olympiad currently tearing up the rink in Pyeongchang, South Korea: 28-year-old figure skater Adam Rippon.
Recently, Field made headlines when her son – 30-year-old Samuel Greisman, a writer and director with a jaw-line that makes me angry – made her aware of the figure skater via text. Field’s response was to implore Griesman to pursue Rippon, effectively playing matchmaker, which, if you ask me, is perfectly understandable, because they clearly don’t call them figure skaters for nothing.
Griesman published the adorable exchange with mother-darling on his Twitter account – and the ensuing gay screaming could be heard worldwide.
Just some really helpful advice from my mom on how to deal with my Olympic crush. pic.twitter.com/shYCXwNOMf
— sam greisman (@SAMGREIS) February 17, 2018
If my mother were Sally Field – she’s not, unfortunately – then any text message interaction reminiscent of her being an actual human person and not an Oscar winner would probably go viral, too. But it’s not just the simple celeb-factor that I’m excited about. Because this seemingly innocuous interaction between mother and son bears so much more weight than you might think.
For years, to be a homosexual – one mired in the endless fog of a world that hates you for what you are – meant that love felt like a losing game. Moons would wax and wane, and yet The Gays remained static in their isolation: locked in a state of fear and self-loathing, terrified to fall for or express their love for members of the same gender.
Homophobia was the weight that held you down, endlessly hissing venom on how “You’re not supposed to like him”, or, “If people knew how you felt, they’d hate you”. Your crushes weren’t crushes; they were a curse. And never did you hate yourself more, than when you had to lie to the face of your family about not having one when you did.
But when mothers can dote on their gay sons and urge them to find love, it signals a shift from all that. We become further distanced from our tormented past; those generations of gay youth so secretive about their love, freed at last. And when that mother is Sally-f–ing-Field, doubtless an international icon, the impact of that freedom is amplified.
A post shared by Sam Greisman (@samg1287) on Mar 7, 2013 at 5:59pm PST
Far from the more personal significance it bears for families, it also signals an extremely important change when it comes to gay youth and their icons. While it’s obvious that Griesman admires Rippon for more than just his routines – and I don’t blame him because Jesus Christ on high – there are elements to Rippon’s sudden fame that render him more remarkable than just being damn skilled in his skates.
Rippon is the first openly gay Olympic figure skater to grace the world stage, as well as being the first openly gay male athlete to win a medal at the Winter Olympics – and he’s taken both these facts as nothing short of an immense responsibility. He’s also unrelentingly been what a more conservative commentator might call a queen.
This means that he’s not just the unrequited desire of more than one generation of homosexual – but he’s the clever, steadfast and intensely political dreamboat of young queers everywhere. We’re seeing before our gawking eyes an example of unapologetic queerness being elevated to famous athlete status, and it’s opening the door for many young men – not just Griesman – to openly and just as unapologetically thirst.
But can the same be said in our sunburnt country? Do gay teens – or gay twenty-somethings, or thirty-somethings, and so on – have politically and socially conscious gay Australian athletes playing our favourite sports, over which to lose their minds?
We kind of don’t.
Australia has always had a very particular “Aussie battler”, “yeah-the-boys” culture, with our dusty cricket matches and the brutal machismo of AFL football . In fact, I can’t think of a gay Australian cricketer on the field today, and the words “out gay footballer” are reserved only for the retired.
That’s not counting Ian Thorpe, one of our most famous Olympiads, who came out in 2014 after years of media speculation. Thorpe is an undeniable Australian icon. But he also spent years in the closet even after his retirement, impeded only by question marks of plausibility rather than the harsh scrutiny of reality, effectively lessening a more homophobic media lens. That sets him apart from athletes like Rippon, who live day-to-day in the current and far more unrelenting spotlight.
In this country, our sun-kissed LGBTI larrikins are cursed almost twice over with the same burden of any other gay youth: you can’t express love, let alone love for the same gender. And if you do, expect to be harangued by the more “bogan” among you. Yet this nation has always done a good job of looking elsewhere for inspiration, being the lucky last to implement marriage equality.
Which is why Sally Field and her laughter-inspiring family interactions represent a necessary – and particularly maternal – change to societal attitudes Western-worldwide; many of which Australia desperately needs to adopt.
If we’re to liberate boys from the toxic masculinity that inhibits sons from gabbing to their parents about their boy-crushes, and if we’re to ever see our own AFL athletes and cricketers leave the closet – that our boys (and girls) will freely dote on, then we require more mothers like Field to usher them into wedlock, and or at least hope of romantic bliss.
So as fetching as you are, Mr. Griesman, Son-of-Field: Adam Rippon is my future husband. I’d appreciate it if you’d stop ogling him now.