PHOTOS: John Cheng for USA Gymnastics
Bravo. Olympic gymnast hopeful Josh Dixon has come out as gay and hopes to become the very "first out American gymnast at the Olympics," reports Cyd Ziegler at Outsports. The 22-year-old gymnast—who is Black, Japanese and a native of San Jose—is a recent graduate of Stanford University and was ranked first in the nation on the men's floor exercises.
Dixon is one step closer to London 2012. He finished third out of the 72 competitors at the U.S. Men’s Qualifier on Saturday in Colorado Springs. He tied for wins in the floor exercise and high bar. Dixon moves on to the 2012 Visa Championships in June.
When he started exploring his sexuality in his junior year he wasn’t the only gay male athlete at Stanford, as he was soon dating another varsity athlete. When some members of the gymnastics team noticed Dixon was spending a lot of time with one particular friend, Dixon said they were quite comfortable bringing it up. Josh told them he was dating the other male student. "Oh that’s cool," was the response
In fact, Dixon said he has not had a single negative response "in any way, shape or form." If anything, the only homophobia he has encountered has been from within himself. He acknowledges he once felt internal pressure about being a gay man in what some label the "gay sport" of gymnastics. He didn’t want to fall into a stereotype. But he’s come to embrace it, and he says his sexual orientation now makes him stand out more at the elite level.
One concern that remains is the judges. Gymnastics is one of only a handful of Olympic sports hand out medals based on the scores of judges. While some claimed figure skater Johnny Weir’s perceived sexual orientation hurt him with the judges in the 2010 Winter Olympics, it certainly did not play a factor when Matthew Mitcham posted the highest-scoring dive in Olympic history in 2008.
There have been only several openly gay athletes in the elite competition of the Olympics, adds Outsports. "Only two American men we know of were ever out publicly at the Olympics. [And] Matthew Mitcham and Johan Kenkhuis have been recent openly gay male Olympians, representing Australia and the Netherlands. There has never been a publicly out gymnast in the Olympics.."
Dixon becomes the second openly gay world class gymnast hoping to compete at London 2012. The other gymnast is also Black and biracial: 25-year-old Dutch athlete Jeffrey Wammes, who came out in April 2011. Wammes was one of seven shirtless jocks to cover L’HOMO, a special edition of Linda Magazine.
Bravo. Follow and congratulate Josh on Twitter at @JoshNDixon.
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