Saturday, July 05, 2008

Olympic Diver Matthew Mitcham Unafraid to Speak About LGBT Issues

"In August, diver Matthew Mitcham will become the first openly-gay Australian to compete in an Olympic Games. Not only is he an elite member of Australia's Olympic diving team, but last month he became headline news around the world. The reason? For being gay," writes Peter Hackney.

Speaking to SX during a break from training at the Sydney Aquatic Centre in Homebush, Matthew Mitcham is nonplussed by all the fuss. “It’s not really a big deal,” he says. “It’s not like I’m a different person. It’s not like I was straight before. So nothing really has changed.”

While Mitcham, who came out to friends and family at age fourteen (Mum’s reaction: “Well, duh!”), doesn’t see his sexuality a big deal, he’s not na├»ve about his position as Australia’s highest-profile out gay sportsman. He’s aware that other people do see it as “a big deal” and he’s happy to wear the mantle of ‘role model’ for young gay guys. “Being in my position, it’s inevitable,” he concedes. “There’s not really much choice. If someone looks up to you, then you’re a role model. And I’m happy with that. I just hope I do a good job – I’m not perfect!”

He certainly bears the markings of a good gay role model: he’s successful, attractive and he’s not shy about speaking up on queer issues. When asked for his view on same-sex marriage, for instance, he has no compunction slamming Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
“I’m not happy with Kevin Rudd,” he says, bluntly. “Kevin Rudd’s opinion of marriage as something that’s only between a man and a woman is quite narrow-minded. During the election campaign he was all about appearing young and cool, but his views on gay marriage make him look quite old-fashioned.” READ MORE