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Gay Olympian using swimsuit to promote LGBTI visibility in Rio

Amini Fonua: ‘Having the words “gay and lesbian” over my butt is my way of announcing my queerness’

Gay Olympian using swimsuit to promote LGBTI visibility in Rio
Photo: Los Angeles LGBT Center – Amini Fonua competes for Tonga in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Openly gay Olympian Amini Fonua wants you to read his butt.

The 26-year-old athlete is in Rio de Janeiro not only competing in the swimming competition but also promoting awareness of LGBTI people in sports with the swimsuit he’s been wearing during practices.

‘Having the words “gay and lesbian” over my butt is my way of announcing my queerness for the swimming world to see,’ he tells Vanguard, a publication of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

This is the second Olympic Games for Fonua who is competing in the 100-yard breaststroke for the island nation of Tonga. He won three gold medals at last year’s Pacific Games.

Three years ago, Fonua helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the LA LGBT Center by playing in their beach volleyball event and has been wearing the swimsuit given to him after which have the Center’s former name, LA Gay & Lesbian Center, on the back.

‘I have worn that suit to every single practice leading up to Rio because there’s not a lot of diversity in swimming,’ he says. ‘It’s a gentle reminder to everybody and myself that I’m different, and to take pride in that difference.’

Fonua says being an out Olympian ‘means absolutely everything to me.’

‘I want the next generation of athletes who advance through swimming’s world rankings to feel safe and comfortable being themselves. I also believe there’s real strength to be derived from the power of openly LGBT athletes.

‘So to all the others in Rio, I say this: “Just by being here and being queer and present, you’re making a difference.”‘

 

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