“Sport is one of the last frontiers to be conquered by gay equality. Sportsmen (even if retired) like Daniel Kowalski coming out does more for equality in sport than any amount of policy work. Not only that but he has not been shy about speaking out against those who have been homophobic like Jason Akermanis.” - a Same Same reader's nomination.
The winner of four Olympic medals, Australian swimmer Daniel Kowalski, 35, publicly came out as gay in 2010, saying he was “tired of living a lie”.
Kowalski competed in 200m, 400m and 1500m individual freestyle events and in the 200m freestyle relay. At the 1996 Summer Olympics, he was the first man in 92 years to earn medals in all three freestyle events.
The swimmer joins what is still a very small number of professional sportsmen to live as out proud gay men.
Kowalski has a message to other athletes still in the closet: ‘’I just want them to realise that they are not alone, that the feelings that they have are probably quite common and that at the end of the day it’s really OK. There will be hard times but you surround yourself with great supportive people who love you for you and you’ll be OK.’’
The Same Same 25 is an annual celebration of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians. They are publicly nominated, and chosen by a panel of community leaders.
For the past two years, the announcement of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians has attracted widespread national media attention and focused on the achievements and influence of a varied and inspirational group of people.