The LGBTQ+ community is mourning the loss of 35-year-old former bobsledder and rugby player Simon Dunn.
Police were called to a Sydney apartment around 10:00am on Saturday, January 21, after a body was found. His death, which is not being treated as suspicious, was later confirmed by his management team.
Racing for Australia, Dunn was the first openly gay man to represent any bobsleigh team at international level. In 2016, he began playing rugby for the Sydney Convicts – an LGBTQ+ team.
He returned to bobsledding in 2021 with hopes of qualifying for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Unfortunately, after he started training, he experienced a ruptured bicep and was unable to compete.
Also a well-known LGBTQ+ and mental health advocate, Dunn’s management, Ruby Rose Management, shared, “Simon was passionate about giving back to the community and volunteering, he gave his time, and utilising his profile, to help multiple charities. Like all great ambassadors, he had his favourites which included Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, Give Out Day, and Pride in Sport.”
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He was vocal about changing sporting culture to be more inclusive of queer athletes and he was an ambassador for the aforementioned HIV charity, The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation. The charity described him as a “…selfless, compassionate and kind individual who treated everyone equally, stood up for marginalised and vulnerable people and called out injustice”.
When his image was used in a homophobic meme, Dunn publicly responded by saying, “Don’t use my image for your internalised homophobia, don’t make assumptions on the kind of gay man I am or the kind of gay men I associate myself with…I’ll always support those who are true to themselves and be who they truly are. I will always be your biggest advocate!”
Dunn was also transparent about his own struggles. After his bicep injury, he disclosed, “I entered some pretty low places. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve referred to myself as a ‘failure’ or questioned my entire career…I’m forever grateful for those close to me during this time, my support network shouldered the weight of what I was going through, when I should’ve just asked for help.”
Tributes for the well-loved athlete continue to pour in from around the world. Drag performer, Kitty Glitter, shared,
“I knew him as a young adorable teenager and watched him blossom into the beautiful man and talented outstanding sportsman we all loved very dearly… Our community has lost one of the most genuinely kind-hearted sweethearts the world has ever been blessed with.
“My heart goes out to all of Simon’s family and friends. His loving energy and spirit shall live on through us always.”
Simon Dunn was beloved within the LGBTQ+ community, and the impact he made during his 35 years will not be forgotten. His legacy to promote equality and inclusion in sporting culture will continue to inspire future queer athletes. Rest in Power.
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