Spotlight On: Amini Fonua

Born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand on 14 December 1989, he was given the hefty name Amini Tuitavake Britteon Fonua. With a Tongan father and British mother, Fonua holds dual Tongan and New Zealand citizenship.

The swimmer has been out since the origins of his career, doing so loud an proud by announcing it in his college newspaper, despite studying at one of the least LGBT-friendly schools in the US.

Fonua wrote the article during his freshmen year at Texas A&M University as a freshman where he has was an ‘Aggie’ (the school’s nickname) athlete. Despite what one might think his teammates fully accepted his sexuality, and even awarded him a special honour for his coming out.

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The 23-year-old swimmer said it was his commitment to the ‘Aggie code’ that convinced him to be open about his sexuality: “An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal, and if you’re living in the closet, you’re living a lie. The Aggie Heart is given to a teammate who puts the team’s needs above their own and exemplifies leadership and has all the qualities of what it means to be an Aggie. And to get that as a gay athlete is pretty huge, especially because it’s peer-voted.”

Fonua is one of the most high profile LGBT athletes with an impressive success rate. Competing in the top swimming events in the world, he created history by becoming the first ever Tongan athlete to ever win 3 Gold medals at a Pacific Games by sweeping the Breaststroke events, setting 2 Games Records in the process (50 m and 100 m Breaststroke), and is the only Tongan athlete in history to ever hold dual Oceania and Pacific Games titles.

Aside from his impressive sports prowess, Fonua is an outspoken LGBT activist, fighting for equality and respect for his community – most notably, calling out The Daily Beast journalist for outing athletes during the 2016 Olympics.

Make sure you keep up with his social media for his shirtless selfies, witty opinion on pop culture, and thoughtful comments on LGBT rights.

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