Olympic gold represents the pinnacle of human accomplishment. To snag the top prize, you must possess strength, dexterity, and precision. That makes it all the more impressive that Matthew Mitcham became the first openly gay man to earn a gold medal amidst a turbulent life full of temptations and obstacles.
But the time had come to make an epic splash in LGBTQ+ history.
“It was the most amazing feeling and my proudest achievement,” Mitcham tells the BBC. The champion diver decided to reveal his sexual orientation soon before the 2008 Games in order to focus on his craft rather than allowing gossip to dominate the collective conversation.
“I was scared about the response, but going into the Olympics I didn’t want the Australian public to think of me one way – as straight – and then have to come out afterwards, feeling like I’d lied to them,” recounts Mitcham.
“I thought it might mean I had no supporters, but the response was fantastic and I gained this enormous colourful worldwide community. It’s honestly the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Fans were unaware of the silent struggle simmering just beneath Mitcham’s toned, alluring skin. He had overcome a lifetime of doubt to eventually bubble up to the top of the proverbial pool, and it all began during his conflicted childhood. “I was so scared of it that I would actually tie a rubber band around my wrist and every time I had a gay thought I would snap it, to try and associate pain and suffering with the gay thought. To try and train myself out of being gay.”
Mitcham thought that earning the #1 spot would drown his insecurities, but they surfaced with a vengeance. “Winning Olympic gold is the most extreme natural high you can ever experience,” he notes with a chuckle. “That’s why I became a drug addict!”
Indeed, meth addiction consumed Mitcham until he could come to terms with his success, as well as his pioneering role in the queer sporting realm. “In Beijing, there were 11 openly LGBT athletes and then there were over 20 at London 2012 and more than 40 in Rio 2016, so it’s doubling each Games.”
Summoning his capital-P Pride, Mitcham acknowledges, “I’m pleased to have hopefully played a small part in that because visibility is so important.”
After successfully enduring rehab, Matthew Mitcham embraced his happy, healthy homo home-life. “I got married last year, so I’ve got a husband and he’s really good looking.”
Indeed, the golden boy is now hitched to a bronze beauty. Together, they are a melting pot of manly appeal. We give them perfect 10s across the board.
Last modified: April 8, 2021