Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bruce Hayes

Journalists covering the 1984 Summer Olympics heard reports that two gold medal winners were about to declare that they were gay, but no one stepped forward. However, two gold medalists from those Los Angeles games came out at a later date –  diver Greg Louganis and swimmer Bruce Hayes (b. 1963).

Hayes (shown at right in 2010 in Cologne, Germany, at Gay Games VIII) anchored the U.S. men's 4 x 200 m. freestyle relay team in what is widely acknowledged as one of the most exciting races in Olympic history, coming from behind to best Germany's Michael Gross by .04 seconds, setting a word record of 7:15.69. A native of San Antonio, Texas, Bruce was a full scholarship swimmer at UCLA, becoming the highest-scoring freshman at the 1981 NCAA Championships, thus helping the Bruins win the national title. During the early 1980s he competed on several U.S. national teams. Hayes captured three gold medals at the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, and won a gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Hayes retired following his Olympic success and thought his swimming career was over. He left the sport to earn a Masters degree at Northwestern University (Chicago) and subsequently moved to New York City to work in public relations.

Ten years after his Summer Olympics success, Hayes returned to the Olympics on the management side as Assistant Competition Manager for Swimming in Atlanta. He then resumed his public relations career in New York following the Atlanta Olympics. Fluent in Spanish, he worked as an executive Vice President for Edelman in Madrid. Hayes continues to travel the world on behalf of clients of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm.

Bruce joined Team New York Aquatics in 1990, and he became the first Olympic gold medalist to compete in the Gay Games (Vancouver 1990 and New York 1994). His accomplishments at Gay Games IV in New York were particularly noteworthy, setting five 25-meter short course Masters world records, including becoming the first Masters swimmer to break 4:00 in the 400 m. freestyle.

Hayes has consistently lent his name and support to LGBT causes. In 1994, he was included in Out magazine's list of 100 most influential gays and lesbians in America. During his time in Atlanta he was a co-founder of the Atlanta Rainbow Trout swim team. He was one of the four charter Gay Games Ambassadors when the program was launched in 2002.

Says Hayes, "While I'll always be extremely proud of my accomplishments as a member of the U.S. National Team, particularly at the Olympics in 1984, in many ways my participation at the Gay Games has been just as meaningful to me. The Gay Games gave me the courage to come out and the awareness and willingness to get involved in our community's political struggles, things I sorely lacked during my years in the closet. The stereotype has been that members of the LGBT community weren't athletic. The good thing about sports is that it's a really good arena to dispel those stereotypes. The Gay Games just opened up a whole chapter of what the real story is with gays and sports."

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