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Amini Fonua talks about representing a country that makes gay people illegal

Amini Fonua swam for Tonga in two Olympics. He’s hoping to make it a three-peat as he pushes for gay equality in his home nation.

Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua gestures duri
Amini Fonua swam for Tonga in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
Photo credit should read FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP via Getty Images

Amini Fonua has represented Tonga in two Summer Olympic Games: in London in 2012, and in Rio in 2016. He’s hoping to represent his home nation again in Tokyo in 2020, but in the meantime he’s working to push Tonga to increase LGBTQ acceptance and protections.

Fonua talked with me for the Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast about competing in the Olympics, his efforts in Tonga, and how he felt carrying the flag for his country in the 2012 opening ceremony as a closeted gay man.

Plus, he opened up about the plot by a straight journalist at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics to target gay and bisexual Olympians on Grindr at the Games. Fonua was very public about his disgust with the practice. His hope for 2020 shouldn’t be a big surprise.

You can check out my conversation with Olympic swimmer Amini Fonua, who will hopefully be one of the over 100 out athletes in Tokyo later this year, by clicking here.