Openly gay Olympic swimmer Amini Fonua will be participating in the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Beach Classic on September 14 at Dockweiler Beach. He’ll be competing in a friendly 2K open swim competition at the Beach Classic with fellow aquasexual, openly gay USC swimmer Sean Mulroy, to champion transgender and HIV services offered by the Center.
Fonua was inspired to compete by the tragic deaths of two transgender women this summer. 31-year-old Domonique Newburn, a transgender reality star, was found dead in her apartment on August 20 in Fontana, California – the apparent victim of a brutal beating. Days later, fashion student Islan Nettles, 21, died from injuries she had sustained in a beating in front of a Harlem police station on August 17. Both incidents are being investigated as hate crimes, and a suspect has been detained in the Nettles case. 18-year-old Dantjier Powell is currently sought in connection with the murder of Newburn.
“It saddened me to hear of the recent tragic deaths of Islan Nettles and Domonique Newburn,” said Fonua. “We cannot turn a blind eye away from our transgender family. My hope is that by participating in the Beach Classic that we not only help to educate those ignorant about transgender people, but that we raise money for services to empower and uplift our transgender brothers and sisters.”
Fonua, 23, is a graduate of Texas A&M, where he made quite a splash when he came out as gay to publicly defend his alma mater’s reputation for being notoriously homophobic. He competed in the 2010 Olympics, representing Tonga, his father’s homeland. Mulroy, 21, is a junior at the University of Southern California where he’s majoring in economics. On the swim team there, he specializes in freestyle and individual medley and is known for his, er, cheeky custom-made speedos — such as one featuring Sharon Needles.
“I wanted to swim at Beach Classic as a way to remind guys my age that HIV is still a big issue in our community,” said Mulroy. ”It’s important that we take responsibility for our health. It’s also good to know that the Center is here for us and offers many health services at low to no cost.”
The L.A.Beach Classic takes place Saturday, September 14 at Dockweiler Beach, with proceeds benefiting the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. The Beach Classic includes the Toyota Financial Services 5K Run, a 2K swim and the State Farm Beach Volleyball Tournament. In addition to swimming at the Beach Classic event, Fonua is inviting the public to join his volleyball team that will compete in the recreational division. Volleyball team members are encouraged to raise at least $125 each that will support services at the Center. Register at www.beachclassic.org – select “Team Trans Olympian.”