Ji Wallace, a gay silver medal gymnast in the 2000 Olympics, has been inspired to tell the world that he is HIV positive.
In a letter to the Star Observer, Wallace (35) said that he decided to go public about his HIV status after he saw an interview with veteran American Olympic diver Greg Louganis, who came out as gay and HIV positive in 1995.
“I have been contemplating writing this for a while. 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,” said Wallace.
“I felt inspired to write. I too am an Olympic medal winner living with HIV. 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,” he added.
Writing on his Facebook page after the letter was published, Wallace said: “A HUGE thanks for the amazingly kind and supportive words coming in from all over the world. Together we can fight for a cure for the millions of suffers, we can bolster the need for awareness of this disease and together we can fight the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/ Aids.”
Wallace won his silver medal in trampoline during the Sydney Olympic Games and is in London to watch the 2012 Games.
He came out as gay in 2005, has performed in a Cirque Du Soleil show and today works as a personal trainer and motivational speaker.