Another HIV-positive Olympian comes out
Bob Leahy with the story about Gay Australian Olympian Ji Wallace publicly revealing his HIV status as a result of the CNN interview featuring Greg Louganis
An Australian publication, the Star Observer, says that Wallace, a trampolinist who won a silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, said he was inspired to make the public admission about his diagnosis after seeing an interview given by US diver Greg Louganis about his battle with HIV and being a gay Olympian.
Here’s what the Star Observer said Wallace wrote in a letter to them
“I have been contemplating writing this for a while,” Wallace said.
“I caught a CNN Piers Morgan interview with Greg Louganis here in London. It made me think and think and I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote.”
“I felt inspired to write. I too am an Olympic medal winner living with HIV,” Wallace said.
“I have never publicly disclosed this before but felt inspired by [the] interview… and by Anderson Cooper’s ‘coming out’ letter last month describing ‘value in being seen and heard’ in the face of disturbing violence, bullying, persecution and condemnation by peers, colleagues, government officials and worst of all family and friends.
“I too have been that victim of these atrocious behaviours. Luckily I managed to come through.”
“I am doing it to raise awareness of this issue. It is still here,” Wallace told the Star Observer.
“Being seen does have value. A voice does have value. I have the support of my boyfriend, my great friends and my loving parents. Many do not and this is, in part, for them.”
This is an interesting counterpoint, isn't it, to PositiveLite.com’s own story on the Greg Louganis interview, which you can see here. In our story, we zeroed in on the homophobic/AIDS–phobic comments the video had attracted on YouTube. It’s important to acknowledge that coming out and going public does not always bring out the best in the viewing public - at least in the morons who lurk in the dark corners of many a social media site.
But here’s what we like, and it’s the other other side of the coin. The Greg Louganis video inspired another athlete to come out, showing so succinctly why disclosure, while often presenting challenges, can be a very good thing indeed. One person’s bravery can inspire others, as it has here. Let’s hope it inspires even more.
I guess you can tell, I love this story.