Mitcham at the 2009 Sydney Mardi Gras
(Pic: Lance Richardson)
As he prepares for the London Olympics, openly-gay Australian diving star Matthew Mitcham says that he is happy for his sexuality to be in the spotlight.
“I don’t mind attention being put on it. Ideally I would like one day for sexuality to be as unimportant and uninteresting as hair colour, or eye colour or even just gender in general. One day it will get to that,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
The twenty-four-year-old, who won an Olympic gold medal for diving in 2008, explained that he is willing to champion LGBT rights for as long as sportspeople remain under pressure to stay in the closet.
“I certainly don’t see it as a burden. I never did, especially with how much attention the LGBT cause has been getting lately with marriage equality… and with how few openly gay sports stars there are around at the moment,” he said.
“But until it is easy for sports people to come out without fear of persecution or fear of lost sponsorship income and stuff like that, or fear of being comfortable in the team environment, I don’t mind attention being brought to my sexuality in the hope that it might make other people feel more comfortable… in being comfortable enough about who they are in their sporting environment.”
Mitcham, then aged 20, was the only openly gay male athlete at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. His final dive earned 112.10; the highest ever score in diving at the Olympics.