Aussie Olympian Ji Wallace comes out as HIV positive
Australian trampolinist and silver medal winner at the Sydney Olympics, Ji Wallace has come out as HIV positive via a letter to the Star Observer newspaper today. Wallace made the announcement while in London as a spectator at the Olympic Games.
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“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,” Ji Wallace explained in a letter to the Star Observer newspaper today. Wallace was a hero of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, winning a silver medal for trampoline. Louganis, a US gold medalist for diving in the 1984 and 1988 games, came out at HIV positive in his 1996 biography Breaking the Surface.
The 35 year-old Wallace had come out as gay in 2005, and has since been an ambassador to the Gay Games, and was in London both as a spectator to the Games and guest for a series of Olympic Pride House events.
“I felt inspired to write. I too am an Olympic medal winner living with HIV,” Wallace said. Last month, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper was edged out of the closet and finally came out in a letter to blogger Andrew Sullivan (The Dish), an act which further encouraged Wallace’s disclosure.
“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,” the gymnast writes touchingly.
“I too have been that victim of these atrocious behaviours. Luckily I managed to come through.”
“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,” he concluded.
When asked by Piers Morgan if coming out as HIV positive was good for youth and for demystifying what it’s like to live with the virus, Greg Louganis was more nuanced. “It’s a double-edged sword. Now young kids are seeing us and they’re saying ‘they’re alive, thriving’ and all that – but I wouldn’t wish my drug regimen on anyone,” Louganis said.
Nonetheless, as the new poster-boy for HIV disclosure, Wallace is sure to inspire many young poz people as Louganis inspired him. (Banner photo: Ji Wallace at 2000 Syndey Olympic Games)