James Faulkner is facing growing criticism for 'joking' about coming out, after a birthday post sparked mass speculation that he was in a same-sex relationship.
Australian cricketer James Faulkner has been forced to clarify the meaning of an Instagram post, after it appeared to reveal that he was in a same-sex relationship.
In a photo shared last night, the 29-year-old said he was having dinner with the ‘boyfriend’, and included a hashtag ‘#togetherfor5years.
The post sparked mass speculation online about his sexuality, with many believing he was ‘coming out’.
Batsman Glenn Maxwell commented on the post with “great courage”, as did former bowlers Brett Lee (“good on ya mate”) and Shaun Tait (“Great courage mate, bet u feel better”).
The post has drawn more than 21,000 likes and hundreds of comments.
A number of media outlets ran with the story, with Channel 9’s Today Show panellists praising it as a ‘historic moment’.
‘Just a great friend’
However, this morning Cricket Australia clarified that the ‘coming out’ post had been misinterpreted - and that the other man featured in the photo was actually Faulkner’s business partner, Rob Jubb.
“They’re not in a relationship, it was a joke about how much time they’ve been spending together working over the past five years. James is not gay,” said a spokesman.
In a follow-up post this morning, the cricketer confirmed the misunderstanding.
“@robjubbsta is just a great friend. Last night marked five years of being house mates! [sic]”
The all-rounder said he was encouraged by the positive comments on the original post.
View this post on Instagram
There seems to be a misunderstanding about my post from last night, I am not gay, however it has been fantastic to see the support from and for the LBGT community. Let’s never forget love is love, however @robjubbsta is just a great friend. Last night marked five years of being house mates! Good on everyone for being so supportive.
“It has been fantastic to see the support from and for the LBGT [sic] community.”
The caption has since been edited to include “(best mate!!!)”.
"False outings never have, and never will be joke-worthy"
Faulkner's clarification of the post has been met with criticism online, with a number of people calling out the incident for making a joke out of coming out.
What the 'misunderstanding' said about the broader male sporting culture was also raised.
In a statement, equality campaigner Rodney Croome welcomed Faulkner clarifying the confusion, but warned that elite sportspeople should 'be careful not to make a mockery of it'.