AI­DAN FAMINOFF

Talk­ing iden­tity and sex­u­al­ity with Florida’s new­est div­ing star.

Gay Times Magazine - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­pher Daniel Estrada Gu­tier­rez Words Ryan Cahill

Ris­ing star of the div­ing world, Ai­dan Faminoff spoke openly about his sex­u­al­ity at the age of 19. A role model in the mak­ing, we join him at his home in Florida to talk ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity in sport, cheeky In­sta­gram com­ments and why he de­cided to share his “com­ing out” story.

It was last Oc­to­ber, in cel­e­bra­tion of Na­tional Com­ing Out Day, that diver Ai­dan Faminoff de­cided to speak openly about his sex­u­al­ity. A lot has changed since then; he’s so­lid­i­fied his name as one of the world’s most promis­ing div­ing new­com­ers, cu­rated a cute AF in­sta page of self­ies and has worked to en­sure he pro­motes equal­ity at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. Most re­cently, he shared the de­tails of his “com­ing out story” in the hope that peo­ple would “con­nect” with the ex­pe­ri­ence of his open­ness.

As he be­gins his rapid rise in the world of div­ing — and as a teen heart­breaker — we spent the day with Ai­dan to learn more about life as an out sports-star.

How long have you been div­ing and what’s your bi est achiev­ment so

far? I have been div­ing for four­teen years, since I was five years old. My biˆest achieve­ment in terms of div­ing has been win­ning a few na­tional ti­tles and rep­re­sent­ing my home coun­try of Canada at in­ter­na­tional meets. Also, be­ing able to con­tinue my div­ing ca­reer while re­ceiv­ing an ed­u­ca­tion in Amer­ica.

What do you want to achieve within div­ing? Div­ing has given me the op­por­tu­nity to come to Amer­ica to par­tic­i­pate in the sport at a col­le­giate level and re­ceive an ed­u­ca­tion. I hope to con­tinue to learn new things and ul­ti­mately to be­come the best diver I can be. Do you think that there is a stigma around ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity in sport? If so, why? I can only speak for my­self, but I think it de­pends on your com­fort level with your­self and your team. I was lucky enough to be blessed with such an amaz­ing and ac­cept­ing team­mates. But, in some cases that is not al­ways the out­come de­pend­ing on the sport and the in­di­vid­ual. I do not see it as a stigma to be an openly gay ath­lete, but each in­di­vid­ual is dif­fer­ent. It also could de­pend on what sport you are in, some sports have more ac­cept­ing cul­tures than oth­ers. What do you think needs to be done for more sports­peo­ple to openly

speak about their sex­u­al­ity? First off, I think they need to be in a com­fort­able and wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Also, I think to be an openly gay ath­lete, so­ci­ety has to change. If so­ci­ety is not sup­port­ing “non-nor­ma­tive” re­la­tion­ships, then why would any­one want to come out? I was ready to come out to my fam­ily, friends and team­mates once I felt there was no more need to hide who I truly was. Un­for­tu­nately, this is not the case for ev­ery­one and I think it comes down to more pos­i­tive and wel­com­ing so­ci­ety. Do you think that more out sports­peo­ple would have greater pos­i­tive im­pact on the gay com­mu­nity? What would the pos­i­tives be? Yes, but com­ing out is so dif­fer­ent for each in­di­vid­ual. This might en­cour­age oth­ers to come out, es­pe­cially ath­letes. But, if more sports peo­ple de­cided to come out then, that could cre­ate a huge im­pact not only on the sport com­mu­nity but the gay com­mu­nity. You re­cently shared your ex­pe­ri­ences of com­ing out, what made you de­cide to do this? I shared my story in the hopes that peo­ple would be able to con­nect to my com­ing out ex­pe­ri­ence. I per­son­ally know the struˆles that can co­in­cide with this process so show­ing oth­ers how pos­i­tive the out­come can be is very im­por­tant to me. I hope my story in­spires in­di­vid­u­als to em­brace who they are and be­come com­fort­able in their own skin.

How have peo­ple re­sponded to you be­ing open about your sex­u­al­ity? Since com­ing out, my ex­pe­ri­ence has been noth­ing but pos­i­tive. I have end­less sup­port from my fam­ily and friends. Since my com­ing out story got pub­lished, I have re­ceived nu­mer­ous peo­ple ex­press­ing how proud they are and thank­ing me on so­cial me­dia. I did not re­alise this would be such a big deal. I was just hop­ing to have an im­pact on (at least) just one per­son.

What mes­sage would you give to any­one stru ling with their sex­u­al­ity? Com­ing out is a big deal, but the most im­por­tant thing is ac­cept­ing your­self for who you truly are. Also, talk­ing to some­one is a way to re­lease any built up fear or anx­i­ety. I struˆled with this for years and never ac­cepted my­self un­til half way through my se­nior year of high school. I fi­nally ac­cepted my­self and told one of my clos­est friends. This was the first step­ping stone to feel­ing that it is okay to be gay. You’re quickly amass­ing a gay fan fol­low­ing, how are you han­dling the at­ten­tion? It is such a cool ex­pe­ri­ence that peo­ple want to reach out to me and fol­low my life. Since gain­ing a lot of at­ten­tion on so­cial me­dia, I am still the same per­son as I was be­fore. I don’t feel the need to change any­thing. With all this at­ten­tion my goal is to con­tinue be­ing my crazy, weird self! If I can in­flu­ence or in­spire oth­ers along the way, then I have done my job. I read some of your In­sta­gram com­ments, and they get quite ex­plicit/ crude – what’s your re­sponse to this? Peo­ple have their right to speak their mind and post what­ever they want. Just how I have the right to post what­ever I want, re­gard­less of the com­ments. Those com­ments will not change or in­flu­ence me on so­cial me­dia. You’re still quite young your­self, but do you con­sider your­self to be a role

model? Yes I am young, but I would con­sider my­self a role model. It doesn’t mat­ter what age, sport, gen­der you are, any­one can be a role model. I have re­ceived a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back, on so­cial me­dia about how they re­late to my story and that I have in­spired them. I shared my story pub­licly to hope­fully in­flu­ence and help oth­ers. That was my main goal.

Tell us about some of your role-mod­els grow­ing up. Grow­ing up I didn’t look up to peo­ple for who they were but more so of what they ac­com­plished. To me, it didn’t mat­ter if they were gay or straight, what mat­tered most was who they were as a per­son and what they did for their com­mu­nity around them. One of my biˆest in­spi­ra­tions is Meaghan Ben­feito. I grew up div­ing be­side her at com­pe­ti­tions in Canada. Meghan took one day at a time and didn’t let oth­ers af­fect her goals and fu­ture am­bi­tions. I took this into my own hands and when it came to com­ing out, I thought that men­tal­ity was very pow­er­ful. Also, I got to know her on a per­sonal level, to this day I can call her one of my clos­est friends.

What does the fu­ture hold for you? There’s no way of know­ing what the fu­ture holds for me be­cause that is some­thing I can­not con­trol. How­ever, I know that if I ded­i­cate a lot of time and ef­fort into things I want to suc­ceed at, there is a greater chance I will achieve my goals. So it’s not know­ing what the fu­ture holds, it’s know­ing how to con­trol the con­trol­lable in life in or­der to in­crease the like­li­hood of a bright fu­ture.

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