Amini Fonua, who represented the South Pacific islands nation of Tonga at London 2012, comes out as gay – but he goes to an ‘LGBT-unfriendly’ American university
Olympic swimmer Amini Fonua has come out in his college newspaper, despite studying at one of the least LGBT-friendly schools in the US.
New-Zealand-born Fonua represented the South Pacific islands nation of Tonga in the 100m breastroke competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Straight afterwards Fonua joined Texas A&M University as a freshman where he has become an active ‘Aggie’ (the school’s nickname) athlete.
But even though the university was listed number seven in Princeton Review’s most LGBT-Unfriendly colleges and there was a student campaign to de-fund the GLBT resource center, Fonua said he has not found a homophobic atmosphere at the school.
‘I’m kind of sick of having to try to defend my school to other people, because I think it’s a very small minority,’ said Fonua in an interview with Texas A&M University’s newspaper The Battalion.
‘Homophobia is at every university, it’s not just A&M. It might be a little more prevalent here, but I do think that people will sensationalize how something really is.’
Fonua said he feels fully accepted by his teammates, which is demonstrated by being awarded a special honor.
‘The Aggie Heart is given to a teammate who puts the team’s needs above their own and exemplifies leadership and has all the qualities of what it means to be an Aggie,’ Fonua said.
‘And to get that as a gay athlete is pretty huge, especially because it’s peer-voted.’
The 23-year-old swimmer said it was his commitment to the ‘Aggie code’ that convinced him to be open about his sexuality.
‘An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal,’ he said. ‘And if you’re living in the closet, you’re living a lie.’
As news of his coming-out traveled across the world today, Fonua tweeted:
‘Thank you for all your support! I really appreciate all the kind words & lovely tweets. Don’t let anything get in the way of your dreams.’
by Anna Leach
Source – Gay Star News