Matthew Mitcham is not shying away from being labeled the "gay diver." Instead, he is embracing the unique role he has an openly gay elite athlete, knowing his speaking out can make a difference. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Mitcham was clear that interest in his being a gay athlete was not a distraction as he seeks to defend his Olympic title in the 10-meter platform, four years after winning gold in Beijing.
''Ideally I would like one day for sexuality to be as unimportant and uninteresting as hair color, or eye color or even just gender in general. One day it will get to that.
''But until it is easy for sports people to come out without fear of persecution or fear of lost sponsorship income and stuff like that, or fear of being comfortable in the team environment, I don't mind attention being brought to my sexuality in the hope that it might make other people feel more comfortable … in being comfortable enough about who they are in their sporting environment.''
Mitcham's Twitter feed describes him thusly: "Yes, I am that gay 2008-Olympic-gold-medal-winning diver dude. And yes, bro, I am quite sick."
He is certainly rounding into top form, hitting a perfect dive this month while qualifying for the London Games. It is awesome that he continues to be a visible, articulate and effective spokesman for gay athletes while competing at a championship level. There is no athlete in London I will be rooting for more than Mitcham.