clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Outsports Male Hero of the Year: Amini Fonua

Olympic swimmer took a strong stand for LGBT athletes.

Amini Fonua
Via Instagram

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:

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.

Honorable mention:

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