When a straight writer for the Daily Beast wrote an article detailing how he chatted with gay Olympians on Grindr and listed specific details that could have outed them, Olympic swimmer Amini Fonua immediately saw the danger and took to Twitter:
No straight person will ever know the pain of revealing your truth, to take that away is just... I can't. It literally brings me to tears— Amini Fonua (@AminiFonua) August 11, 2016
As an out gay athlete from a country that is still very homophobic, @thedailybeast ought to be ashamed #deplorable https://t.co/qzS9rDFJwx— Amini Fonua (@AminiFonua) August 11, 2016
Imagine the one space you can feel safe, the one space you're able to be yourself, ruined by a straight person who thinks it's all a joke?— Amini Fonua (@AminiFonua) August 11, 2016
Shame this inhumane CREEP who thought it'd be funny to endanger people's lives in the village @NicoHines pic.twitter.com/5TTom3i9c6— Amini Fonua (@AminiFonua) August 11, 2016
Fonua, who went to Texas A&M, swam for Tonga in the Olympics and finished 45th in his only event. But his importance as an Olympian came by being an openly gay athlete. Fonua was not afraid to stand up for LGBT athletes everywhere and point out why what the Daily Beast did was so irresponsible and dangerous.
For his public activism at the most visible sports event in the world, Outsports picks Fonua as its Male Sports Hero of the Year.
Fonua’s Twitter reply went viral and got the issue attention on major websites, both LGBT and mainstream. It put a public face on the seriousness of outing and the pressures faced by gay athletes, especially those in the closet.
Sportswriter Chris Hine. Hine came out publicly in a column in the Chicago Tribune but didn’t stop there. Hine regularly has addressed issues of LGBT people in sports, becoming an important mainstream voice. For example, when NHL player Andrew Shaw called an opponent a “faggot,” Hine wrote a terrific column where he spoke to Shaw about what he had done and its implications.
Coach Nich Lee Parker. The Columbia University coach came out publicly about a month before coaching the Lions to a men's rowing national championship.
Past Hero winners:
2015: Billy Bean
2014: Conner Mertens