Tonga is made up of 170 islands just west of the International Date Line, 3,200 miles east of Australia and 1,400 miles northeast of New Zealand. In Tonga, homosexuality is still illegal, with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. But that hasn’t stopped out Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua from speaking his mind.
When Nico Hines, a straight, married reporter from the Daily Beast, used Grindr to find out which Olympic athletes were gay and outed some who were from countries where the penalty could be death, Fonua took to Twitter and Instagram to call Hines out.
“Shame this inhumane CREEP who thought it’d be funny to endanger people’s lives in the village @NicoHines,” he wrote on Twitter.
He explained, “It is still illegal to be gay in Tonga, and while I’m strong enough to be me in front of the world, not everybody else is. Respect that.”
He had a number of other messages for Hines and others:
“No straight person will ever know the pain of revealing your truth, to take that away is just… I can’t. It literally brings me to tears,” Fonua wrote.
And: “Imagine the one space you can feel safe, the one space you’re able to be yourself, ruined by a straight person who thinks it’s all a joke?”
And this: “As an out gay athlete from a country that is still very homophobic, @thedailybeast ought to be ashamed #deplorable.”
The Daily Beast post has been removed.
Kudos to Fonua for standing up for LGBT athletes around the world. We’d like to think he learned to stand up to injustice in college. Fonua is a graduate of at Texas A&M University.