The South Australian politician, who is openly gay, said in the Senate today that many homosexual people felt "alone, isolated from their peers, isolated from their community, and sometimes their family".
Senator Wong also addressed the remarks made by sports commentator Brian Taylor, who referred to an AFL player as a "big poofter" on Saturday night during Channel 7's coverage.
"It isn't a joke to be on the receiving end of a word like poofter," she said.
"It's no joke to be caught in the crossfire of prejudice and it's no joke to live with the fear of being rejected or vilified or persecuted because of who you are.
"The fact is we still hear homophobic insults and slurs bandied around as if they're acceptable, harmless just a bit of a laugh. Well it isn't a laugh to a young person growing up working out who they are surrounded by an atmosphere of hostility."
Senator Wong said it was "terribly sad" that Thorpe, a five-time Olympic gold medallist, thought Australia wouldn't accept him as their sporting champion if he was gay.
But she also said that Mr Taylor could learn from "the courage shown by Ian Thorpe".
"For every loud-mouth, there are hundreds of people quietly behaving with integrity and with dignity; and for every homophobe, there are hundreds of people – gay and straight – with the courage to stand up for what is right," she said.