Gay Australian Olympian Ji Wallace has publicly revealed his HIV status in a letter sent to the Star Observer.
Wallace, a trampolinist who won a silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, said he was inspired to make the public admission about his diagnosis after seeing an interview given by US diver Greg Louganis about his battle with HIV and being a gay Olympian.
“I have been contemplating writing this for a while,” Wallace said.
“I caught a CNN Piers Morgan interview with Greg Louganis here in London. It made me think and think and I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote.”
Louganis won four gold and a silver medal at the Olympics between 1976 and 1988 before coming out as both gay and HIV-positive in a 1995 autobiography.
“I felt inspired to write. I too am an Olympic medal winner living with HIV,” Wallace said.
“I have never publicly disclosed this before but felt inspired by [the] interview… and by Anderson Cooper’s ‘coming out’ letter last month describing ‘value in being seen and heard’ in the face of disturbing violence, bullying, persecution and condemnation by peers, colleagues, government officials and worst of all family and friends.
“I too have been that victim of these atrocious behaviours. Luckily I managed to come through.”
Wallace is in London to view the men’s trampoline event and as the guest of honour at several functions with the Olympic Pride House for LGBTI athletes.
“I am doing it to raise awareness of this issue. It is still here,” Wallace told the Star Observer.
“Being seen does have value. A voice does have value. I have the support of my boyfriend, my great friends and my loving parents. Many do not and this is, in part, for them.”