October / November 2012
Olympic Winner Tells the World He's Positive
by Trenton Straube
The summer Olympics inspired awe among billions. For gay Australian Olympian Ji Wallace, they inspired a public disclosure that he has HIV. After watching an interview with Olympic icon Greg Louganis, who spoke about his own life with HIV, Wallace penned a letter to the Australian Star Observer.
“I, too, am an Olympic medal winner living with HIV,” Wallace wrote, adding that another influence was CNN’s Anderson Cooper, whose recent coming out letter described “value in being seen and heard” in the face of discrimination and bullying. Wallace, a trampolinist who won a Silver in 2000, says he has the support of his boyfriend and family but realizes that many people with HIV aren’t so lucky. “I am doing this to raise awareness,” he wrote. “It is still here.”
The International Olympic Committee played a winning game too. It gave out 100,000 condoms to the 12,000 athletes at the London Games and created a toolkit to help coaches share HIV info (the committee also urged positive athletes to disclose as a way to fight stigma). The kits inspired more than 10 countries to adopt versions for their own Olympic committees. For that, they deserve a Gold Medal.
Search: Summer Olympics, Ji Wallace, Greg Louganis, trampolinist
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