Australian Olympic Champ Ji Wallace: I'm HIV Positive
Openly gay Olympian Ji Wallace is HIV positive, the athlete revealed in a letter to Australia's Star Observer August 8.
The 35-year-old gymnast, who won the silver medal in trampoline at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, said he was inspired to share his story after watching another openly gay Olympian, United States diver Greg Louganis, 52, speak about his own battle with HIV.
"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," Wallace explained. "I felt inspired to write. I too am an Olympic medal winner living with HIV."
Louganis won four gold medals and one silver medal at the Olympics between 1976 and 1988. He was diagnosed HIV positive six months before competing in his final Olympic Games, but did not make the information public until a 1995 interview with Oprah Winfrey, 58.
Wallace added that he was also inspired "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."
(CNN journalist and talk show host Cooper, 45, publicly came out in a letter to political blogger Andrew Sullivan in July 2012. T"he fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud," Cooper said.)
Wallace, who is in London as a guest of honor at the Olympic Pride House for LGBTI athletes, added that he decided to come forward "to raise awareness of this issue. It is still here."
"Being seen does have value. A voice does have value. I have the support of my boyfriend, my great friends and my loving parents," Wallace wrote. "Many do not and this is, in part, for them."