Another HIV-positive Olympian comes out

Published 10, Aug, 2012
Author // Bob Leahy - Publisher

Bob Leahy with the story about Gay Australian Olympian Ji Wallace publicly revealing his HIV status as a result of the CNN interview featuring Greg Louganis

Another HIV-positive Olympian comes out

An Australian publication, the Star Observer, says that Wallace, a trampolinist who won a silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, said he was inspired to make the public admission about his diagnosis after seeing an interview given by US diver Greg Louganis about his battle with HIV and being a gay Olympian.

Here’s what the Star Observer said Wallace wrote in a letter to them

 I have been contemplating writing this for a while,” Wallace said.

 I caught a CNN Piers Morgan interview with Greg Louganis here in London. It made me think and think and I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote.”

 “I felt inspired to write. I too am an Olympic medal winner living with HIV,” Wallace said.

 “I have never publicly disclosed this before but felt inspired by [the] interview… and by Anderson Cooper’s ‘coming out’ letter last month describing ‘value in being seen and heard’ in the face of disturbing violence, bullying, persecution and condemnation by peers, colleagues, government officials and worst of all family and friends.

 “I too have been that victim of these atrocious behaviours. Luckily I managed to come through.”

“I am doing it to raise awareness of this issue. It is still here,” Wallace told the Star Observer.

 “Being seen does have value. A voice does have value. I have the support of my boyfriend, my great friends and my loving parents. Many do not and this is, in part, for them.”

This is an interesting counterpoint, isn't it, to PositiveLite.com’s own story on the Greg Louganis interview, which you can see here.  In our story, we  zeroed in on the homophobic/AIDS–phobic comments the video  had attracted on YouTube. It’s important to acknowledge that coming out and going public does not always bring out the best in the viewing public - at least in the morons who lurk in the dark corners of many a social media site.

But here’s what we like, and it’s the other other side of the coin.  The Greg Louganis video inspired another athlete to come out, showing so succinctly why disclosure, while often presenting challenges,  can be a very good thing indeed. One person’s bravery can inspire others, as it has here. Let’s hope it inspires even more.

I guess you can tell, I love this story.

About the Author

Bob Leahy - Publisher

Bob Leahy - Publisher

Award-winning blogger Bob Leahy first made his social media mark a decade ago on LiveJournal.com where there are still to this day almost 3,000 entries of his available to be read. He was a featured blogger on Ontario’s HIVStigma.com campaign, along with PositiveLite.com founder Brian Finch. He joined PositiveLite.com at its inception in 2009 and became it's Editor a year later.

Born in the UK, Bob’s background is in corporate banking, which he gladly left in 1994, after being diagnosed with HIV the previous year.  He has chaired the board of PARN (Peterborough AIDS Resource Network) and has been an executive board member of both the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) and the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS).  He was inducted in to the Ontario AIDS Network’s Honour Roll in 2005.  Bob is currently a member of Ontario’s GMSH (Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance). He also writes for TheBody.com.

In 2012, Bob was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for his work and commitment to HIV/AIDS in Canada.

Bob continues to write for this site while in the Positivelite.Com editor’s seat, with a particular interest  in HIV prevention, theatre and the arts in general. He is accredited media for a number of Toronto theatres. He lives in Warkworth, Ontario with his partner of thirty-two years and three dogs.