We need to talk about this salient moment from Dane Swan on I'm A Celebrity.

“I certainly have no qualms if anyone wants to get married to a male, female, whoever they want to get married to, I couldn’t give a hoot.

“I can’t see why it’s not legal in this day and age that two people can’t get married to each other.”

In an a country where over 70 per cent of people support marriage equality, those words seem particularly unremarkable. You’ve probably heard them from people in the street, your friends, your colleagues and some politicians. Marriage equality saturates public discourse, forcing us pick which side of the fence we will passionately reside.

So why are they remarkable enough to draw attention to and repeat, as if they’re ones we’ve never heard before?

On Thursday night, former AFL footballer Dane Swan was bordering on blasé when voicing his support of gay marriage. It came after US comedian and actor Tom Arnold quizzed conservative radio host Steve Price on Australia’s battle in legalising same-sex marriage. Swan was not centre of the conversation; an outlier who dropped in and out of the discussion with the indifference of someone who doesn’t thrive off the political.

Penny talks about same sex marriage. Post continues after audio.

And there’s two reasons why Swan’s words have struck a chord.

The first, and perhaps less obvious one, comes down to our obsession with identity. We crave knowing everything about the people in the public eye. Sports stars can’t just be sport stars, actors can’t just be actors and politicians can’t just be politicians. Everyone must stand for something, identify with a cause and align themselves with the left or the right. And in doing so, we give birth to a movement of people who are tired of labels.


Women are compelled to not identify as feminists, actors are worried about what happens when they voice support of certain politicians. Footballers seldom give commentary on anything other than a muddy Sherrin or Mad Monday.

It's important that the unassuming occasionally give voice to certain causes.

It's important that the unassuming occasionally give voice to certain causes. Because with Swan's words come legions of fans that wake up to the idea that sometimes it's okay to fight for what's right.

And in a football community where not a single AFL player has come out as a gay, his words have a certain kind of depth and importance to them.

It's baffling, that in over 120 years, not a single AFL player has identified as anything other than straight.

With Swan's unexpected words - with his support - the dial is slowly moving.

The second point is a more simple one. It's how casually the discussion of same-sex marriage arose on a reality television show that makes it's money off viewers who seek light relief in a world of heavy debate and sad news.

Dane Swan isn't a politician nor is he a public commentator. And that's why his words are important. Because if we're suddenly finding ourselves at an intersection of sport, reality television and the debate about a public issue, it must be time for change.

Why else would the debate be seeping into every facet of our society?