Amini Fonua, who is openly gay, has made a stand at the Rio 2016 games by asking the audience to look at his butt in order to promote equality. The sportsman who competes in his second games for Tonga, he has the words “gay and lesbian” on his swimsuit. He speaks to Vanguard Now to say: “Having the words ‘gay and lesbian’ over my butt is my way of announcing my queerness for the swimming world to see.” Unfortunately, Fonua won’t be wearing the swimsuit when he competes for Tonga in the 100-yard breaststroke, but he is showing off the pair he was given by the Los Angeles LGBT Center. The trunks were gifted to him when he helped to raise many thousands of dollars by participating in the Beach Volleyball Classic fundraiser. Of course the LA Gay and Lesbian Center’s name is printed on the back. Although he will not wear them when he competes, Fonua said he has wornt hem to all of the practices.
He tells Vanguard: “I have worn that suit to every single practice leading up to Rio… because there’s not a lot of diversity in swimming. It’s a gentle reminder to everybody and myself that I’m different, and to take pride in that difference.” Adding: “I want the next generation of athletes who advance through swimming’s world rankings to feel safe and comfortable being themselves.” Fonua was one of a few out gay Olympians at the London 2012 games and is a proud flag-bearer for the opening ceremony for Tonga. Asked how important it is for him to be an out Olympian, he says: “It means absolutely everything to me,” he says. “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.”