Simon Dunn might have been the first openly gay man to represent the his home country of Australian in bobsleigh, but the retired sportsman says it’s “selfish” of the gay community to expect other sportsmen to follow his example.
The sporting world appears to have become a far more welcoming place for gay athletes in recent years, with high profile sportsmen including Team GB diver Tom Daley, rugby league player Keegan Hirst and Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy all coming out publicly at the height of their success, but Simon says that homophobia within the sector can still cost gay athletes their careers.
The 29-year-old, who retired from bobsleigh last year and has since relocated to London, where he plays with LGBT-inclusive amateur rugby team the King’s Cross Steelers, told London Live that professional athletes “shouldn’t feel pressured to come out” despite the leaps that have seemingly been made when it comes to gay acceptance in sport.
“Everybody’s coming out is personal and in their own time,” he said. “It is selfish for our community to expect someone to do it because of their public profile. Given the sporting culture, coming out could seriously affect their career.
The former Attitude HOT 100 winner continued: “I myself was already out when I joined the Australian [bobsleigh] team, but from my own experiences I can understand why someone wouldn’t come out, let alone someone earning and risking millions of pounds.”
Before turning his talents to the bobsleigh Simon played rugby league in his native Australia, but originally quit the sport because of a personal struggle over his sexuality.
“I wasn’t exactly welcome within my team growing up. Its not the easiest road to take,” he explained.
“And also growing up I’d learnt to believe gay men have no place in the sporting world and it took me a very long time to dispel those beliefs.”