Tongan Olympian Amini Fonua on being an openly gay athlete at Texas A&M

Posted on 06 May 2013 at 1:45pm

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FonuaTexas A&M is consistently ranked as one of the most homophobic schools in the nation by the Princeton Review — and recently the Aggie Student Senate again tried to cut funding for the school’s GLBT Resource Center.

So we were pleasantly surprised to hear that the school is home to an openly gay swimmer, senior Amini Fonua, who represented his native Tonga at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

It sounds like Fonua has been out to his Aggie teammates for some time, but a story today on the front page of the campus newspaper, The Battallion, appears to be his first public announcement:

Fonua, a senior telecommunications and media studies major, said many assume maintaining his identity as an Aggie athlete and a gay man would be difficult and controversial. Yet the Olympian said his story has been a “fairy tale” in terms of what others have experienced and not the trial and battle many perceive it would be.

Fonua said problems tend to arise when one must hide his or her true identity. The Aggie honor code, he said, is not compatible with dishonesty about one’s nature.

“An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal,” Fonua said. “And if you’re living in the closet, you’re living a lie.”

Fonua was a flag-bearer for Tonga in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Over the weekend, he flew 7,000 miles to surprise his mother on her birthday — which he has missed for each of the last three years due to NCAA Swimming Championships. Watch the heartwarming video from Fonua’s blog below.

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