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Matty McLean’s angelic response to Israel Folau’s homophobic comments

Sometimes it's not what you say, it's how you say it.
Matty McLean Israel Folau

Breakfast weatherman Matty McLean has posted a very simple and to-the-point response to Israel Folau’s homophobic social media post in which he said “hell awaits” homosexuals.

“Angelic as Hell – sorry @izzyfolau,” Mclean said, as he posed in front of an image of angel wings.

30-year-old Folau is currently embroiled in legal action with Rugby Australia over his post, which also singled out drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators unless they repent and turn to Jesus.

The union are seeking to terminate his, $4 million AUD contract after finding him guilty of a “high level” breach of conduct. An independent panel has backed Rugby Australia’s ruling and a decision on Folau’s future in the game is expected in the next few days.

It’s not the first time Matty has spoken out about Folau’s religious views. In April last year the Wallabies star made a comment on Instagram saying that gay people would be going to “Hell…Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”

His wife, Silver Fern Maria Folau, came out in support of her husband, saying “Stand with God no matter what…Don’t be afraid to stand up for the truth, even if that means you will be standing alone.”

When the subject came up on the Breakfast show at the time, McLean was close to tears as he spoke about how much of an impact those comments had on him.

Watch: Matty McLean’s emotional response to Israel Folau’s anti-gay comments. Article continues below.

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“I try not to let these things get to me,” he said, “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,” Matty said as he struggled to hold back tears.

“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 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.”

When Matty came out publicly in 2012 he expected a certain amount of negative public reaction, but he was pleasantly surprised at the positive response and certainly hadn’t anticipated the flood of letters he received from mothers across the country, expressing their dismay that he wouldn’t be marrying their daughters.

“Coming out to my dad was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” Matty told the Australian Women’s Weekly the following year. “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.”

Matty with the rest of the Breakfast team – Daniel Faitaua, Hayley Holt and new co-host John Campbell.

It was that response which spurred him on to get involved in the marriage equality campaign – so that his dad could one day see him get married. He wrote a submission to parliament in favour of the Marriage Amendment Bill and read it before the select committee.

Matty says the whole process of submission brought him and his dad “closer than ever,” saying “he’s amazingly supportive.”

In deciding to make the submission and then read it publicly, McLean felt that he needed to stand up for those that were struggling with acceptance.

“I thought if I could make one little bit of difference, then it would all be worth it,” he explains. “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.”

It took a lot of soul searching for Matty to decide to speak publicly about his sexuality. “All my friends and family have always known” he says. “But I would hope being gay isn’t the most interesting thing about me. I don’t want it to define me.”

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