Golf legend Greg Norman is the CEO of a new Saudi-backed league. With LIV Golf’s first tournament set for next month, the 20-time PGA Tour champion has been trying to drum up interest in the nascent organization.
Part of that is downplaying Saudi Arabia’s brutal record when it comes to human rights and LGBTQ issues.
“We’ve all made mistakes,” says the man who spent 331 weeks as the No. 1 golfer in the world.
But Norman didn’t stop there. When asked about the kingdom’s abysmal treatment of LGBTQ people, he dismissed the question outright.
“I’m not sure whether I even have any gay friends, to be honest with you,” he said.
That’s the kind of rhetoric we would expect from an atavistic strongman like Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who once infamously said there were no gay people in Chechnya.
Instead, it comes from Norman, one of the PGA Tour’s most iconic figures. He talks about gay people as if we’re a foreign species, stashed in some faraway land.
Norman claims he doesn’t have any gay people in his life, so why would he care about us?
Norman’s outrageous comments show how the golf world is bereft of LGBTQ visibility. This year was the 86th straight Masters with zero out gay players. Over the years, few pro golfers have even made statements in support of LGBTQ causes.
They’ve all apologized, for what it’s worth.
“If the players on the PGA Tour were more outspoken about it, it would help our cause a lot,” Fujikawa said. “But I think a lot of the players feel that it doesn’t really involve them, so being quiet is OK.”
That captures Norman’s position to a tee: see no evil, hear no evil.
In his mind, Saudi Arabia can treat LGBTQ people however it wants, just as long as his golf league is up and running.