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Gay rugby star and bobsledder Simon Dunn dies at 35

"Simon was loved, adored, and respected within our community worldwide," wrote the star's management.

By Alastair James

Simon Dunn
Simon Dunn at the Australian Football League Pride round, June 2022 (Image: Instagram/@bysimondunn)

Simon Dunn, the Australian rugby player, and former bobsledder passed away at age 35, it has been confirmed.

In a statement, Ruby Rose Management said the trailblazer “passed leaving an amazing legacy”.

As reported by the Australian outlet Star Observer, police in Sydney responded to calls after the body of a man was found at a property on Crown Street in Surry Hills at around 10am on Saturday 21 January.

Police have said the death is not being treated as suspicious.

Dunn was the first openly gay man to join a national bobsleigh team when he joined the Australian squad in 2014. He retired two years later.

After this, he moved to London where he joined the LGBTQ rugby club King’s Cross Steelers. He later played for the Sydney Convicts, Australia’s first gay rugby club.

In 2021 Dunn announced plans to return to bobsled hoping to represent his country at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. However, a bicep injury ruled him out.

“Homophobia has no place in the sporting world”

In November 2022 Dun broke up with his former partner, Felix Maisey-Curtis. The two made headlines when they stuck a defiant two fingers up at the Australian rugby star Israel Folau following homophobic comments he made.

Dunn and Felix shared images on social media of them kissing after a rugby match in London.

He told DNA magazine, “Homophobia has no place in the sporting world and it’s comments like those from Israel truly are outdated.”

The athlete was shortlisted for the Australian LGBTI Awards Sports Personality of the Year for 2018 and 2019.

A passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community, Dunn was an ambassador for the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, Australia’s oldest community-based HIV organisation. He also worked with GiveOUT, an Australian LGBTQ charity.

Dunn last posted on social media on Thursday (19 January) writing: “I think it’s time for another photoshoot?!”

Since then the comments have been filled with people mourning the news of Dunn’s passing. A statement from the Sydney Convicts said the club was “devastated” by the loss and affirmed: “Once a Convict, always a Convict.”

“Simon was loved, adored, and respected”

Ruby Rose Management wrote in its statement: “Loved by family & friends, adored by fans, media and social platforms all over the globe, our Simon Dunn has passed leaving an amazing legacy.”

Recounting Dunn’s achievements in bobsled and rugby it said: “Simon was loved, adored, and respected within our community worldwide.”

“Simon was passionate about giving back to the community and volunteering,” it continued.

“Simon never said ‘NO’ to donating his time to any organisation who wanted to grow Diversity and Inclusion footprint from Woolworths to Lion – helping them all to better understand their LGBTQIA+ employees and customers,” it added.

It also said: “Simon represented us all, he always said ‘I am not the spokesman, I am just a gay white male telling you about my experiences, and experiences from those with whom I listened and learnt. The sharing of these stories gives us all an appreciation of what has lead us to where we are today’.”

The statement closed by saying: “Simon will be missed, not just for his sportsmanship, not just for his valued views on our community and sport but mostly for being who he was a genuine all-round nice guy, who had time for everyone.

“He had a story for us all, but mostly he wanted to know your story, and who you are, and how can he help share what you mean to life.”

A friend of Attitude magazine, Dunn was crowned the hottest man in the world in Attitude’s 2017 Hot 100, which no longer runs.