AIDS/HIV | Australia | Ji Wallace | News

Gay Australian Olympian Trampolinist Comes Out as HIV-Positive


Ji Wallace, an Australian Olympic trampolinist who won a silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, though not competing in London, has been inspired to come out as HIV-positive after watching a recent Piers Morgan interview with diver Greg Louganis. He also cited Anderson Cooper's recent coming out, in a letter to the Sydney Star Observer:

Said Wallace:

“I felt inspired to write. I too am an Olympic medal winner living with HIV. 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."

He added: "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."

Louganis came out as gay and HIV in his 1995 autobiography. I've posted his Piers Morgan interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

In related news, we have the first out Gold medalist of the London Games:

The only openly gay Olympian in Team GB has helped his equestrian team secure gold at the London Olympics. Carl Hester rode Uthopia in the dressage’s Grand Prix Special at Greenwich Park.

(image via twitter)

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  1. Australia is still in the HIV = gay stage of gay rights development. Totally and utterly sad. If you go there, you will see that most of their community newspapers are filled with articles about AIDS. It's totally and utterly depressing.

    My advice to anyone gay is this: avoid Australia unless you're intent on suicide. Yes, it's that depressing a place.

    Posted by: jason | Aug 8, 2012 9:28:19 AM

  2. You know what's depressing? Reading every comment by Jason on every Towleroad posts. I've never seen you say one constructive or upbeat thing. I consider myself an eternal pessimist and your posts even bum ME out.

    I'd probably enjoy Towleroad a lot more if Andy just disabled the comments section altogether.

    Posted by: Ryan | Aug 8, 2012 9:42:18 AM

  3. Ryan,

    I've been known to say upbeat things. In any case, if you don't like my negativity, don't read it. Nobody is forcing you.

    What's there not to be negative about. I see a scene awash in so many self-destructive and fake things. I wish it were different.

    You know, I yearn for the day when we assert ourselves in the mainstream instead of hiding away in some dark gay bar reading awful community newspapers full of stories on HIV and AIDS.

    Posted by: jason | Aug 8, 2012 9:47:23 AM

  4. A powerful and empowering move, Ji; congratulations on making this courageous, public announcement. You add to the good in the world with this.

    Posted by: Kile Ozier | Aug 8, 2012 9:52:10 AM

  5. Jason -- If you are sitting in a dark gay bar reading awful community newspapers, you have only yourself to blame.

    I am a happily proud, out, gay man, who is not defined solely by my sexuality. Grow up man. Time to shut the pity party down.

    Posted by: drex | Aug 8, 2012 9:56:33 AM

  6. mmmmmmm that guy is HOTTTT

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Aug 8, 2012 9:59:16 AM

  7. mmmmmmm that guy is HOTTTT

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Aug 8, 2012 9:59:21 AM

  8. Kudos to Ji, his boyfriend and his supportive family!

    And yes, he *is* quite the hottie.

    Posted by: Oz in OK | Aug 8, 2012 10:17:38 AM

  9. Congratulations to Carl Hester for his gold medal. I've been enjoying watching the Equestrian events online, so it was nice to see him win.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Aug 8, 2012 10:19:36 AM

  10. Jason,

    HIV or not, no one needs to be depressed.

    You can always work for the good health of others or advocate for a cure.

    When either happens we'll all feel better and you'll get some creds.

    Meanwhile someone might be authentically helped by something you do and the world will be just a little bit a better place for you and your beau to live in.



    Posted by: mark | Aug 8, 2012 10:36:12 AM

  11. HOT!!!

    Posted by: peterparker | Aug 8, 2012 10:59:43 AM

  12. While Mark's comments were the most constructive and I applaud him for taking the higher road...

    I have to say the thing that depresses me the most are the queens who lament the "lack of community" who do NOTHING to help/foster/create a community. Jason sees nothing but darkness...that's a terribly sad place to be in...and I hope he gets the right balance of meds and support necessary to come out of that hole. But Drex is right: You hate the view from the window you are looking out of? Go to another window, dude! Or...better something to change the view in front of you!

    I work in the medical field in the area of HIV, I see subtle and huge changes in all the communities affected by HIV...all the time. Sometimes those changes can be problematic...but sometimes even the challenging changes eventually lead to advancement and hope. For example: The positive guy in Iowa who was arrested, imprisoned, and put on the sex offender list for having sex with a condom without disclosing his HIV status. Many people will see that as a negative (I'm sure he has his issues with it). But he is not just stepping back and accepting the fate of the world (or the Iowa court)...he is taking action, working with others to mobilize communities to create change that may or may not affect him but hopefully will improve the outcomes for countless others. Glass half-empty folks will see his case and lament. Glass half-full folks will see his case and think of the possibilities for advancement in the area of HIV and the law.

    Posted by: Jay | Aug 8, 2012 11:35:24 AM

  13. I think his Anderson Cooper comparison is a bizarre. Cooper didn't come out as HIV+, he came out as gay. With that logic Wallace could have drawn inspiration to make his HIV status known from any inspirational story. I think he unnecessarily implies that all gay men are HIV+.

    Posted by: Brandon | Aug 8, 2012 11:38:07 AM

  14. @Brandon

    I think he was very clear in why he mentioned Cooper. It's about visibility. Being gay and being positive aren't exclusive things, but they're both things you wouldn't know about a person unless they're open about it.

    Posted by: greg | Aug 8, 2012 11:49:40 AM

  15. @Ryan

    I have to agree with you. Jason's comment in reference to this article is a shining example of his pessimistic outlook. After reading an article about Ji's accomplishments, who happens to be from Australia, Jason says "avoid Australia unless you're intent on suicide." Seriously? I've been to Australia several times and have never had the negative experience that Jason made reference to. Sweeping generalizations such as these benefit nothing and no one.

    Posted by: Gigi | Aug 8, 2012 12:18:44 PM

  16. I have corresponded with Ji intermittently for over a year and he is a very nice guy. I think it was great of him to do so and im proud to say I know the guy.

    Posted by: Marc | Aug 8, 2012 12:28:37 PM

  17. Greg,

    I agree with you about the visibility aspect but again, there are countless other inspirational stories that create visibility that Wallace could have found strength from. I still find his comparison bizarre.

    Posted by: Brandon | Aug 8, 2012 12:29:14 PM

  18. They have trampoline events in the Olympics?

    Posted by: BobN | Aug 8, 2012 12:30:22 PM

  19. What a hottie, indeed!

    Posted by: Seattle Mike | Aug 8, 2012 2:21:47 PM

  20. Congratulations to Carl Hester on his team gold!

    Posted by: Randy | Aug 8, 2012 2:43:15 PM

  21. Bobn,

    Yes, trampoline is an Olympic sport, men amd women. It's quite something to watch if you get a chance. The height and acrobatics they display is amazing.

    Posted by: Spencer | Aug 8, 2012 3:49:35 PM

  22. I'd hit that!

    Posted by: Brian | Aug 15, 2012 9:43:02 AM

  23. Jason, Australia is the country that has one of the world's largest and most famous LGBT pride events -- as well as the country that gave us the single most famous and beloved LGBT-themed movie of the past 20 years, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". Do LGBT people there still face problems? Of course -- but that's still true of every country on earth, including even the ones that are in the vanguard of equality rights.

    It ain't perfect -- no place is -- but it's hardly the worst hellhole on earth for an LGBT person to live in or visit. Even if it's not the paragon of LGBT acceptance yet, it's certainly much closer to the top of the list than it is to Uganda.

    As for Ji Wallace, I remember him looking a lot more twinky back when he won his medal, so I'm pleasantly surprised by how woofy hunky hot he's gotten too. Bravo to him, and I know what I'll be fantasizing about tonight!

    Posted by: Craig S | Aug 20, 2012 1:25:15 PM

  24. Jason: "Australia is still in the HIV = gay stage of gay rights development".

    Huh? What a bizarre statement. Australia has one of the highest rates of support for gay rights and gay marriage on the planet.

    We have a huge mardi gras every year which is attended by a cross-section of EVERY community, and have more out n' proud 'celebrities' than you can shake a stick at (comedians, actors, athletes, politicians, football players etc.).

    At every place I've worked for the past 10 years, I've had at least one gay colleague... and no one could care less. Admittedly this is in the govt/prof/research sector and not on a building site but still!

    We're also generally not a bunch of right-wing religious weirdos. The Westboro Baptist 'church' wouldn't last 2 seconds here... we'd hound them out with pitchforks.

    And finally, what's with the "HIV = gay" equation?? If anything, there's been much more publicity of the risks of the disease to straight people and intravenous drug and steroid users.

    Even at the height of the HIV-hysteria in the '80s, there wasn't a blanket assumption of it being a "gay virus" (if anything, it was seen as a "junkie virus" back then).

    But then, most of us aren't moralising crusaders with a religious agenda... so it tends to get treated as more of a medical/epidemiological issue - at least among people with an IQ above the single digits.

    Of course, every place has its fair share of idiots and bigots, and we're certainly no different. I wouldn't want to be a gay kid growing up in Far North Queensland, or a lof of other places. I'm sure lots of Australians have had a horrible experience of bigotry at same stage of their lives...

    But still, I would really like to know upon what basis you make this 'observation' of gay people in Australia. 'Cause it sure sounds like you pulled it out of your arse.

    Posted by: Kath | Aug 24, 2012 12:05:19 AM

  25. Jason, there are plenty of places in the USA where the equation Gay=AIDS is still the general public mindset. Upon moving to one a few years ago for a job, I was told "Don't let anyone know you're HIV+ ... they might think you're Gay!"

    Posted by: darkmoonman | Sep 6, 2012 2:10:34 PM

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