PHOENIX, Arizona, May 7. IN the aftermath of American professional basketball player Jason Collins announcing he is gay, the media has turned its focus recently on the plight of openly gay athletes in other sports. This week, two swimmers who represent major universities in the United States shared their perspectives of being accomplished athletes who also happen to be gay.
In a post today on the gay sports website outsports.com, University of Southern California junior Sean Mulroy writes about the complete acceptance he has received from teammates and coaches there. He writes that he was publicly out to many people as a high school senior and when he made college recruiting trips, he made sure coaches were aware of his sexuality.
Mulroy said in his column on OutSports that being openly gay has allowed him to focus more on being a better swimmer. “Being out has allowed me to focus solely on my sport without having to worry about judgments from teammates and coaches,” he writes. “I work extremely hard and am very dedicated to my sport, but I have been more than just an athlete over the past years.”
Mulroy has been a strong performer for USC, placing in the top 20 at the Pac 12 championships in the 200 and 400 IMs in 2012 and 2013.
One might assume coming out was more difficult for Amini Fonua, a senior at Texas A&M University. In an article published this week by The Battalion, the school newspaper, Fonua said it was just the opposite, citing a conversation he had his freshman year with the team captain in which the captain asked Fonua to inform him of any harassment.
“I think that sort of set the precedent for my journey here because everyone's open-minded, people don't judge, and at the end of the day if you're good at what you do, anything else and everything else is secondary,” Fonua said.
Recently, Texas A&M was named one of the top 10 least-friendly schools for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes by the Princeton Review. But Fonua said he never experienced any homophobia on campus.
Fonua, whose collegiate competition eligibility ended in 2012, raced for the Aggies at the NCAA championships. His highest achievement was not swimming the 100 breaststroke at the Olympic Games representing Tonga, but receiving the Texas A&M Aggie Heart Award.
“The Aggie Heart is given to a teammate who puts the team's needs above their own and exemplifies leadership and has all the qualities of what it means to be an Aggie,” Fonua said. “And to get that as a gay athlete is pretty huge, especially because it's peer-voted.”
Mulroy spoke of being openly gay in October 2012: