GayCalgary® Magazine [copy]

Simon Dunn Gets Messy

‘World’s Sexiest Man’ at Hot Mess Sunday

Celebrity Interview by Jason Clevett (From GayCalgary® Magazine, September 2015, page 30)
Simon Dunn
Simon Dunn
Simon Dunn
Simon Dunn
Simon Dunn
Simon Dunn

Did you know that the sexiest man on earth lives in Calgary? That is, according to the readers of UK magazine Attitude, who voted for Australian bobsledder Simon Dunn as number one on their top 100 list. Dunn, who appears Sunday at National for Hot Mess, ousted his fellow out athlete Tom Daly, as well as stars like Channing Tatum, to achieve the honour. The magazine flew him out to London to attend a party for the issue, not telling him until he arrived that he won the title.

"They told me that I would be happy with the result. I was like Alright. Then they offered to fly me out for the party. It wasn’t until I arrived and landed that they told me; it was a little bit surreal. Driving from the airport and the editor goes Oh, in case you didn’t know... I was like Oh... really? I think for me it was more about the readership of that magazine in particular – like the fact of what I am trying to do for gay athletes. I think it is more about that then attractiveness," Dunn told "It hasn’t really sunk in yet. The publicity is good, just to be in the media and have people realize that there are actual gay athletes out there, is probably the best thing to come out of it."

As for the magazine’s claim online that Dunn "left on the arm of a dashing boy-bander", Dunn remained mum.

"I don’t know what you’re talking about," he said laughing. "I can’t recall. Obviously I can but... yeah. My sister was convinced that I was dating a member from One Direction. If that were the case I’d still be in London. My niece is a big One Direction fan, so it is probably that my sister has been exposed to them through her."

Sadly, Canada can’t take credit for Dunn. The native Australian moved to Calgary in November, 2013, to pursue rugby, but a chance meeting changed the direction of his life.

"I am coming up to two years here. I came here because I had played rugby in Sydney for a while and wanted to use it to travel the world and play somewhere else. I had played three games in Calgary and then I met up with the captain of the Australian Bobsled team. Bobsled took over and I didn’t play rugby anymore. I prefer rugby, to be honest, because it’s what I’ve done my whole life. They are very similar in that they are both about power and speed. It is a bit of a difference, but it’s been okay," the athlete says. Between working at Winsport, and training, Dunn is at Canada Olympic Park around 12 hours a day.

"I have a lot of lifting – about 2.5 hours of lifting weights. Every couple of days I have sprint training and push training and, when it is cold enough and the track is actually open, we spend a couple of hours up there sliding down hills. On top of that, I have to work, so it’s pretty full on. It makes it tough when your life is in the northwest. I live in Montgomery, so I am pretty much on a bus line to go straight to work. I haven’t seen much [of Calgary's gay community], unfortunately. Not as much as I would like. With training and work I tend to just hang out at the gym, but what I have experienced has been a lot of fun.  It’s not like Sidney, but Sidney doesn’t have a bobsled track."

Although there are many similarities between the two countries, Dunn talked about the differences he has experienced, most notably his home country’s lack of gay marriage equality.

"It is a little bit embarrassing that Australia is that far behind on the whole gay marriage thing. I find that Canada is a lot more accepting than Australia. Unless you live in a gay enclave in Sydney, it is kind of a bit homophobic. I haven’t had any issues in Canada. In Australia, the team I played for was a gay team: the Sydney Convicts. I felt comfortable enough to play for what you would call a ‘regular team’ over here. The inner city of Sidney is not homophobic, but if you went out into the suburbs it is pretty homophobic."

Dunn returns to Australia September 7th – the day after Hot Mess – for tryouts for the team.

"Every year we have to try out and meet a certain standard and, if you don’t meet it, you aren’t allowed to race. Last year they were here, which was extremely convenient. This year they are in Australia, so I am flying a ridiculous amount of distance to run 30 meters. Not that I am over the moon about it. There is no bob sleigh track in Australia; just a sprint track. Once we’ve done the testing there we still have to come back here and make the standard push. It’s an expensive little adventure. We tried to get it done here because, with the Canadian team being based out of COP, there are people here that could run the tests themselves, but our federation didn’t agree with that.  I am not looking forward to the 20-hour flight with a hangover at all. I am flying on Australian airlines, so I am trying to pull the athlete card to get an upgrade, but I don’t seem to be having much success," he said. When suggested that maybe he could flirt with the desk agent and pull the I am one of the hottest guys on the planet angle to get an upgrade, he laughed. "Hopefully! That is one of my plans."

It all leads to South Korea and the 2018 Winter Olympics.

"Being someone that has always had sports as a major part of my life, to be able to have done it is primarily who I am, and to represent my country would be amazing. Also I will be the first out gay man to represent their country in bobsleigh at the Olympics, so it would be another chance to break down stereotypes and help change the world one step at a time."

You can meet Simon before he heads back to Australia (briefly) at Hot Mess Sunday.

"Apparently I have to socialize, give out autographs, and there will be a photo booth. I’m still not certain that anyone is going to want to get my autograph; we’ll find out, I guess. They have given me a reasonable amount of drink tickets so we will see what happens," he said, adding that being part of Pride is a big deal. "I think it’s being proud of yourself. Being gay for me, personally, is a fundamental part of who I am. I am quite proud to be a gay man."

In the end, that is what is most important to Simon Dunn. While the flattery is appreciated (the offer to strip while in Australia not so much: "That’s... not really my thing. The money would be good – don’t get me wrong – but then there goes the whole role model side of things," he said) being a good example is the biggest thing.

"[English rugby player] Sam Stanley just came out, and it was funny, because I was wondering why he was following me on Instagram for the last six months. Now we know why. Also we had [player] Keegan Hirst in rugby league come out. For me, the main reason I do this is because I am not only representing my country, but the gay community. Growing up I never had those kinds of role models. I ended up giving up rugby league in my teen years because I didn’t feel like a gay man could participate in sport because of the general perception of gay men in the community. The more gay athletes that stand up and be known, the less likely the younger generation will have to deal with the same struggles that we had to, to do what we love."

For many, the accolades and attention would go to their heads. Not so in this case; Dunn remains quite grounded.

"I would say that the whole training aspect of it keeps me humble. Bobsled is what I am known for, and my desire to do really well in that sport ensures that I have to stay grounded and not get carried away with everything that has happened," he said, adding that it has been an amazing experience since he first became highlighted in Attitude and other media in December, 2014. "I think it is funny that there were articles last year saying I had just come out. I actually came out when I had just turned 17. I came out as a bobsledder more than as a gay man. So it was a bit weird, but it has been amazing. It was this time last year when I was asked to try out on the 18th of September. Since that time I have become the first out gay man to represent my country in bobsleigh. Then it was off to London... it is a bit surreal and amazing – I am not complaining. It seems to have snowballed into what it is."


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