Olympic gold medalist Matthew Mitcham has thrown his weight behind the Australian-first “Pride House” set to launch on the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games.
Modelled after a traditional Olympic hospitality house, the Pride House will be a family-friendly space at Surfers Paradise welcoming LGBTIQ athletes, fans, and their friends during the Games.
“Whether or not the athlete might be openly LGBTIQ or in the closet because of their situation or the environment that they’re in, just that knowledge that this event they’re going to supports wholeheartedly that person’s identity is really affirming,” Mitcham said.
“It has a massive impact even if the athlete doesn’t get to go to the Pride House themsleves because of their competition schedule or whatever.
“It’s really comforting to know that you’re in a place where you are accepted and embraced for exactly who you are.”
The 29-year-old, who delivered the highest scoring dive in Olympic history in the 10m platform event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said that hiding his sexuality earlier in his career had an impact on his athletic performance.
“It really has an incredible impact on performance, on self esteem, because you can’t really give yourself wholeheartedly to anything unless your heart’s actually in it,” he said.
“Concealing a massive aspect of yourself is something that I found quite detrimental to my own performance much earlier in my career.
“When I had a training environment where I felt accepted and embraced, that had the most profound effect on my training, on my self esteem and that was before Beijing and that was when my progress shot up like a rocket.”
The Pride House will be launched at 11am on Wednesday (March 28) at Rise Bar and Club on Cavill Avenue in Surfers Paradise, hosted by Olympic gold medalist and Pride House ambassador Natalie Cook (pictured above, second from right).
The 2018 Pride House at the Gold Coast will be the first ever to be hosted in Australia and will be open until the Games wrap up on April 15.
The Pride House will host two brand new exhibits, “LGBTI People of the Commonwealth” and “Australian LGBTIQ+ Sporting Trailblazers”.
Meanwhile, a free LGBTIQ-themed concert will form part of the 12-day arts and cultural program at the Games next month.
Hosted by Australian-born drag superstar Courtney Act (pictured, left), the Sparkle in the Sand event will welcome performers, athletes and speakers onto the Main Stage that will be set up on the beach at Surfers Paradise.
A different free concert event will perform on the Main Stage every evening from April 4 until April 15 as part of the festival running for the length of the Games.
More than 6,600 athletes and officials from 70 Commonwealth nations will travel to venues on the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville in April.