Gus Johnston Lowers His Guard
He’s immediately recognizable in the busy Melbourne café. Pausing at various tables to find the stranger about to interview him, former Australian field hockey player Gus Johnston smiles broadly through a neat beard, dressed in the rumpled elegance of a sport coat and collared shirt. His red hair stylishly prepared around a thick cowlick, Johnston lowers an athletic body into the seat and announces himself. “Hi, I’m Gus.” It is now more than a year since the former Victorian goalkeeper decided to let down his natural defense and break a long held silence about being gay. Sharing – in quick succession – his sexuality with family, teammates, and the world, Johnston’s online video about homophobia in contemporary sport caught the attention of a wide range of audiences around the world.
For the previously private and self-conscious athlete, what came next was a newfound role as an everyday advocate and campaigner, an interlocutor between languages and mindsets.