Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Olympic swimmer talks about coming out
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2013-07-12

This article shared 5802 times since Fri Jul 12, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Amini Fonua, a swimmer in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, was openly gay for all four years on the swim team at Texas A&M University. He came out to the world this past May. Fonua spoke with Ross Forman recently and acknowledged, "This is my first U.S. newspaper interview," since coming out publicly.

He was a gay freshman swimmer at Texas A&M University in the fall of 2008, boasting an impressive resume in his native New Zealand, where he broke numerous Auckland and New Zealand age-group records.

He had been in the U.S. only once before, a year earlier, for a swim meet in Hawaii, and this was his first time living in America.

"I was very much out, and had some amazing upper-classmen who told me that they'd watch after me. They said, 'If there are any problems whatsoever, let us know and we'll make sure they don't continue,'" Amini Fonua said in a phone interview. "I was very lucky to have a few guardian angels on the swim team looking after me, making sure I was in an environment where I could strive and be at my utmost best.

"It was a dream come true to earn a scholarship, and I know I was offered it because I was great at what I did. Nothing else should have mattered," including sexual orientation.

Fonua shined in the Aggies' speedo. He graduated from the school this past May, and ranks No. 1 all-time in the school's record books for the 100-yard breast stroke, set in 2012. He also ranks No. 3 overall in school history in the 200-yard breast stroke, less than two seconds behind that record, too.

Plus, Fonua was part of three of the school's top five all-time best times in the 200-meter relay, and two of the top five all-time best times in the 400-meter relay.

He was a six-time All-American.

"I look back [at my Texas A&M career] and think about all of the lessons learned, the lifelong friendships formed. I think those four years were amazing; I grew from being a boy to a man, surrounded by the best of friends. I'm really, really grateful that I made the decision [to attend A&M] and I never would change it," Fonua said.

His collegiate highlight, he said, was being named team captain as a senior. "That was really rewarding. It was fun to lead the team as best I could and still maintain some of the best friendships I ever had," he said.

Fonua came out publically in May to defend the school from the perception that it is a hostile environment for LGBT students, coming out in the campus newspaper, The Battalion, after a Student Senate bill drew attention to the attitude of students attending a school the Princeton Review ranked the 7th-most unfriendly LGBT campus in the country.

"I'm very lucky, thankful and grateful that I never suffered anything bad," on campus in College Station, Texas, because of my sexual orientation, he said. "I was out all four years, and had no issues whatsoever."

Fonua said that, in the two months since coming-out to the world, nothing has changed.

"Life continues forward," said Fonua, who has since moved to New York City for an internship at a public relations firm. He graduated with a telecommunications and media studies major.

When DOMA was defeated and the Supreme Court ended Prop 8, the California constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage, Fonua replied, "I'm proud of [gay] things that are happening now in the U.S."

Fonua has retired from competitive swimming, at least for the time being. He admits he'll consider returning. He also is considering a foray into full-time coaching. "I definitely enjoy coaching, and I get a fulfillment out of it too, just in a different way [than as an athlete]. I think I could be good at it and definitely make it a passion of mine."

But what a career he's had, especially over the past year-plus.

He was the 2012 Big 12 champion in the 100-meter breaststroke and represented Tonga at the 2012 London Olympics. Fonua holds dual Tongan and New Zealand citizenship.

Oh yeah, he even was the Tonga flag-bearer in the 2012 Summer Olympics Parade of Nations.

"The Olympics were unlike anything I had ever seen or done in life, something I know I might not get to repeat again in life, so I really, really cherish and really, really embrace that memory," Fonua said. "Every time I look back at that moment at [carrying the Tonga flag], I get goose bumps.

"I really cherished that moment because it gave me a chance to think about all of the people who worked my entire career with. It was sort of an accumulation of so much hard work, from so many people. I can't take single credit for it. Family, friends, coaches and so many others also deserve credit."

Fonua said his heart nearly stopped when he first learned he was going to be carrying the flag. He immediately called his parents to tell them, but they were airborne, en route to London. So he sent them an email and also sent them a text with the news.

Then he informed the world via social media (Facebook and Twitter).

Fonua, who swam the 100-meter breast stroke, was one of three Tongan participants (two men, one woman) in the 2012 Summer Olympics, which included a shot putter and sprinter.

"I did all right, not as well as I had hoped," Fonua said. "My goal was top 40, and I finished 41st. Still, it was so much fun, and I definitely would do it all over again.

"I look back on my career and reflect on the whole thing, the wide picture, including the Olympics, and I'm satisfied."

More Amini Fonua facts:

—Being a role-model: "I really want to be a role-model, especially for the [Tongan] community because water safety still is something that we still struggle with every single day, and I'm very passionate about it."

—In his limited free time, he enjoys watching movies, hanging out with friends, and karaoke. He recently went to a Cher concert and attended the New York City Pride Parade.

—He is single, "pretty happily single," he added.

—On Chicago: "I want to get to a Cubs game," he said. "And I'm so happy the Blackhawks won [the Stanley Cup.] I am a Blackhawks fan, regardless of who the other team [on the ice] is."


This article shared 5802 times since Fri Jul 12, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SPORTS Chicago Fall Tennis Classic in gear with pro women players 2021-09-27
- The Chicago Fall Tennis Classic, a part of the WTA (Women's Tennis Association) tour, is in town through Oct. 3. Just a few of the players in the first round, or round of 64, are top seed and Ukrainian player Elena ...


Gay News

SPORTS Chicago Sky score another playoff win, beating Minnesota 2021-09-27
- The sixth-seeded Chicago Sky (2-0) defeated the third-seeded Minnesota Lynx (0-1) 89-76 at the Target Center in Minneapolis in round two of the 2021 WNBA playoffs on Sept. 26. With the win, the franchise moves on ...


Gay News

SPORTS Chicago Red Stars edge Portland 2-1 2021-09-26
- The Chicago Red Stars, behind goals from Kealia Watt and Rachel Hill, defeated the Portland Thorns 2-1 at home on Sept. 25. In the game's 24th minute, Portland's Christine Sinclair's curling shot from outside the box ...


Gay News

SPORTS Chicago White Sox clinch playoff spot 2021-09-24
- For the first time in 13 years, the Chicago White Sox are the American League Central champions. The team defeated Cleveland 7-2 on Sept. 23 as it split a doubleheader that officially eliminated the Guardians (formerly ...


Gay News

SPORTS Chicago Sky win playoff game against Dallas Wings 2021-09-24
- In WNBA action, the Chicago Sky defeated the Dallas Wings 81-64 in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, at Wintrust Arena on Sept. 23. Under current head coach and general manager James Wade, the team ...


Gay News

Proceeds from 30th Annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago to help 26 HIV/AIDS organizations 2021-09-22
--From a press release - CHICAGO — On Saturday, Oct. 2, at 9:30 a.m., more than 1,700 advocates and supporters will gather safely at Soldier Field to participate in the 30th annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago (ARWC) to support individuals ...


Gay News

RECREATION Metropolitan Club's BigShots Golf Lounge 2021-09-22
- BigShots Golf Lounge is part of the Metropolitan Club's rebranding. Despite the perceived exclusivity of the Metropolitan, the lounge—on the 67th floor of Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Dr.—is a state-of-the-art area that is accessible to ...


Gay News

SOCCER U.S. women win big over Paraguay again 2021-09-22
- Five days after Carli Lloyd scored five goals against Paraguay, Alex Morgan scored a hat trick (three goals) as the U.S. women's national soccer team (USWNT) downed the same country 8-0 on Sept. 21 in Cincinnati, ...


Gay News

SPORTS Sky end regular season with win, get ready for playoffs 2021-09-20
- The Chicago Sky ended their regular season on a positive note, beating the Indiana Fever 98-87 at Chicago's Wintrust Arena on Sept. 19. Diamond DeShields tied her career-high point total, scoring 30 while shooting 61.5% from ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Genera+ion' axed, sports items, Wilson Cruz, k.d. lang, Lil Nas X 2021-09-19
- HBO Max did now renew Genera+ion, its OC-high-school-set dramedy, out.com noted. "We will not be moving forward with a second season of Genera+ion," a spokesperson for HBO Max said in a statement. "We are very proud ...


Gay News

SPORTS Aces rout Sky 103-70 2021-09-18
- In WNBA action, the Las Vegas Aces routed the Chicago Sky 103-70 at Wintrust Arena on Sept. 17. A day after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared Sept. 16 to be "Candace Parker Day," the Sky forward ...


Gay News

SOCCER Lloyd scores five goals as U.S. women rout Paraguay 2021-09-17
- Scoring five goals in a soccer match can be called a glut or even a "repoker." Whatever it's called, Carli Lloyd accomplished that incredible feat as the U.S. women's national team routed Paraguay 9-0 in Cleveland ...


Gay News

Gay Games XI postponed because of pandemic 2021-09-16
- Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming Gay Games XI have been moved from November 2022 to November 2023, Outsports reported. "Given the ongoing uncertainty regarding the state of travel restrictions internationally and in Hong Kong, ...


Gay News

USWNT national soccer team slams contract offer 2021-09-16
- The United States Women's National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) is calling the U.S. Soccer Federation's offer of identical contracts for its women's and men's national teams a publicity stunt, according to Yahoo! Sports. On S ...


Gay News

SPORTS Sky come up short vs. Mystics 2021-09-13
- At Wintrust Arena on Sept. 12, the Chicago Sky lost to the Washington Mystics 79-72. Sky center Azura Stevens scored a season-high 18 points in the Sky's loss. Earlier this season, the former first round pick ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.