Meet Gay climber Campbell Harrison who's blazing trials on his way to the Paris Olympics

Campbell Harrison is an out gay Olympic climber
Campbell Harrison is an out gay Olympic climber

While historically, many LGBTQ+ athletes were forced to remain in the closet in order to compete, times have changed, and now there is an increasing number of queer athletes living out loud and proud, including Australian competitive climber Campbell Harrison who is on his way to the Summer Olympics in Paris.

Campbell joins the ranks of the other out athletes set to compete at the 2024 Olympics, like bisexual American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, gay British diver Tom Daley, and lesbian USA Women’s Basketball team players Chelsea Gray and Brittney Griner.

The 26-year-old sports climber came out as gay to his family and the public back in 2021 while speaking at a ClimbingQTs panel, and since then, he has become a fierce LGBTQ+ advocate. In 2023, he even wrote a personal essay for Outsports about why it is vital for queer athletes to come out.

“I had so few real, tangible and relatable examples of queer people leading successful lives that I think I internalized some kind of notion of queer inferiority,” he wrote. “Had I only known of all the incredible queer people who were out there thriving in all manner of athletic, creative and professional pursuits, then perhaps I would have been able to take ownership of my own identity sooner. Perhaps sharing who I was with the people I cared about wouldn’t have carried with it so much guilt and shame.”

He continued, “Future generations of young people within the Australian climbing community would have at least one queer person to look up to and show them that life opens its doors to you when you quit shying away from it.”

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When Harrison found out he had scored a spot on Australia’s Olympic team, he took the opportunity to increase queer visibility and normalize same-sex public displays of affection by kissing his boyfriend during a live stream of the event and then posting it on social media.

“From what I could see, every other athlete who qualified whose partner was there, kissed their partner on the live stream, so it was very common,” Harrison said in an interview with Outsports. “But when it’s two men, it catches attention for sure! And that can be a good and powerful thing.”

Paris 2024 will only be the second time sports climbing has been included in the prestigious event, so Harrison will be blazing trials by competing in a fairly new Olympic competition and becoming the first LGBTQ+ climber in the Olympics.

“Competing as a queer athlete, I always hope that I can show other young queer climbers that being gay doesn’t have to be a barrier to participation in sport, but we can also be the best if we set our mind to it,” he said, according to the Australian Olympic Committee.

Good luck in Paris, Campbell! We’ll be rooting for you!

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