Which is more improbable, that a tiny island nation of 100,000 is able to field an Olympic swim team, or that one its members is openly gay, fully accepted by his teammates, and an activist for GLBT equality? One-named, New-Zealand-born Fonua represented the South Pacific archipelago of Tonga in the 100-meter breaststroke competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Soon after that, he matriculated at Texas A&M University, where he joined the swim team and found broad acceptance from his peers. What induced him to speak out publicly was a student campaign to de-fund the GLBT resource center on campus. His activism won the support of teammates, who voted Fonua the recipient of this year’s Aggie Heart Award, which is “given to a teammate who puts the team’s needs above their own and exemplifies leadership…”
Oh, and which swimmer in the photo is the gay one? If you chose Number Three in the lineup as the one who’s “not like the rest,” you’d be incorrect. Fonua is the second from the left.