Looking back, the 80-year-old recounted his conversation with the sports star to News.com.au.
“I said to him at the time: ‘Why the hell did you think that because you were gay that you had to keep it a secret? Who gives a toss?’”
Michael cites the attitudes were different in Thorpie’s heyday and that swimming was predominately a “butch sport.” The veteran reporter also believes Ian held onto his secret was because of guilt.
“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.”
Attitudes and views have definitely progressed, with Ian addressing it in his interview.
“I'm not straight. And this is only something that very recently - in the past two weeks - I've been comfortable telling the closest people around me,” Ian said at the time.
“Part of me didn't know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay. But I'm telling the world that I am.” The British broadcaster, who has become somewhat of an adopted Aussie citizen, went on to reveal his all-time favourite interview subject.
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,” he said.