community

Michael Gunning on friendship with Adam Peaty and why LGBTQ allies must speak out

“It’s not just about the community, because sometimes we can feel really lonely, but making sure allies are there and they support everyone,” says Michael.

2021-10-08

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Dean Ryan McDaid

Michael Gunning has revealed that his friend and fellow swimmer Adam Peaty reached out to him after he failed to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.

The British-Jamaican swimmer, 27, missed out on qualifying for Jamaica’s swimming team at the Tokyo Games in July. At the time he told Attitude he was “heartbroken” by the news.

Speaking to Attitude at the 2021 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar, Michael he opened up about his friendship with Peaty.

“I’m so grateful”

Speaking of Peaty, who Michael reveals is one of his best allies, Michael said the two are very good friends. He added: “He’s always shown on social media and publicly that he supports my journey, and we are really good friends.

“Friends doesn’t have defined by posing for photos but it’s being there when you actually don’t think you’ve got anyone there, it’s amazing,” he continued.

Michael went on to reveal that Adam reached out to him after he failed to qualify for the games, which he has put down to conditions brought on by the pandemic.

Michael said: “He [Adam] brought me to his house even through lockdown, when I couldn’t train or have access to a pool, he made sure that I had a swimming pool to swim in in his garden. Without him, I really wouldn’t be standing here. So, I’m so grateful.”

Adam, he says, is an example of a great ally. As to what others can do, Michael says it’s as much about allies as it is about LGBTQ athletes speaking up. “It’s not just about the community, because sometimes we can feel really lonely, but making sure allies are there and they support everyone.”

The swimmer admitted it was tough to watch the Olympics, describing it as “bittersweet,” but that he was super proud seeing “that rainbow flag fly through,” with the likes of Tom Daley and other LGBTQ athletes taking part.

And of course, Michael is rooting for Adam on Strictly Come Dancing. “I’m hoping to go in the next couple of weeks to watch and support him. He’s doing so well.”

Michael, who admits to wanting an invite (BBC Producers!), is also wary of the next time he and Adam are both on a dancefloor saying, “I’ve got competition, I’ll have to watch out.”

The Attitude Awards issue is out now.

Subscribe in print and get your first three issues for just £1 each, or digitally for just over £1.50 per issue.