The United States has never had a publicly out male gymnast participate in the Olympics. Josh Dixon hopes to be the first.
The Stanford grad took a big step toward that goal at the U.S. Men’s Qualifier on Saturday in Colorado Springs, finishing second overall out of the 72 competitors. He also tied for wins in two events: floor exercise and high bar. It was a game-changing come-back performance for Dixon, who tore his Achilles tendon last spring.
Now Dixon is talking about his personal life and sexual orientation publicly for the first time. Like charging at the vault, he’s coming at it at full speed.
Even as he gets closer to his Olympic dreams, and his focus narrows more than ever on his training and competition, Dixon is ready to talk about his sexual orientation.
In his sophomore year at Stanford, one of his best friends on the gymnastics team at the University of Illinois came out to him. Dixon reciprocated the revelation; Instantly, they had a mutual support structure with another gay collegiate athlete.
When he started exploring his sexuality in his junior year, he quickly learned he wasn’t the only gay male athlete at Stanford, as he was soon dating another varsity athlete. When some members of the gymnastics team noticed Dixon was spending a lot of time with one particular friend, Dixon said they were quite comfortable bringing it up.
“Who’s this guy you’ve been hanging out with?” One of them asked.
Josh told them he was dating the other male student.
“Oh that’s cool,” was the response.
In fact, Dixon said he has not had a single negative response “in any way, shape or form.” If anything, the only homophobia he has encountered has been from within himself. He acknowledges he once felt internal pressure about being a gay man in what some label the “gay sport” of gymnastics. He didn’t want to fall into a stereotype. But he’s come to embrace it, and he says his sexual orientation now makes him stand out more at the elite level. While he stands out, he isn’t the only one. Dixon knows of at least three more still competing in college, and he says he is not the only elite-level American gymnast who is gay.