“One way to tackle such an issue would be to always associate masculinity with acceptance.” Josh Dixon on homophobia and masculinity in sports. We talk activism in sport, past relationships and role models with the former US National Gymnast.
YOUTH and ROLEMODELS
How was your youth, did you have a role model growing up?
Oh man. There are lot of things that could describe my youth. Energized, eclectic, inspired. I am very, very, very fortunate to have been adopted by two of the most loving, hard-working, selfless parents. They allowed myself and my two sisters, who were also adopted, to have the freedom to be as creative and exploratory as we wanted. They allowed us to make mistakes but learn from them. They allowed us to enjoy a wide array of experiences while maintaining humility and an absolute understanding of hard work. They never let any “shame of where we came from” creep into the picture. They instilled in us the value of an education. They continue to lead by example. There are certainly times, even now, when I make grave errors, but they help me to understand the “why” and look to introspect rather than point. I have a lot of role models in the different arenas of life, but I would have to say my parents top that list.
When did you first say out loud, “I’m gay”?
The latter stages of my time at Stanford. It was scary, uncomfortable, freeing, but I have to credit having that conversation with myself to the people and environment that were front and center in my universe, at that time. I recognize that not everybody has that type of support system.
What advice would you give to your adolescent self?
Lots of advice! I recently wrote a “letter to a younger me” for a Logo TV project (http://www.newnownext.com/letter-myself-josh-dixon/10/2017/) and I would have to say that acceptance, getting comfortable being uncomfortable, self-respect, and vulnerability were the main takeaways. I still need these reminders and need to work on this advice.
You’re a keen tennis player too. If you could pick anyone as a doubles partner who would it be?
Serena or Federer. So much to learn from these two on and off the court. I could go on for days here. I’m pretty good at tennis, if I say so myself 😉 , and I think my passion for the sport is understated. Any of my close friends and family know that I light up when it comes to my love for the game. Hahah it’s as if any stranger thought it was my main sport and gymnastics was a hobby (clearly not the case). It’s just a beautiful sport in so many ways.
What are one of the most important traits you look for in a potential boyfriend?
Humor. Sense of Adventure. Creativity. Relationship questions are rather tough right now because, simply put, I had a significant other who answered this question in all the right ways and the onus was on my lack of vulnerability, communication around things that bothered me, and sense of self-worth. I inspect the knowledge or lack of knowledge about myself multiple times a day as I mature and progress in this life.
“Not everybody can be a great athlete, but an athlete can come from anywhere. That platform is very powerful.”
Were you motivated by anything beyond the Olympics that gave you the strength to follow such a strenuous training regime everyday for so many years?
I’m motivated by a lot of things. I’m motivated by my peers. I’m motivated by the feeling you get when hard work comes to fruition, regardless of in which arena that work is done. I’m motivated by knowing what it feels like to have a regret and not wanting to have that feeling. The strength to maintain that type of training schedule, candidly, came from all of those who provided me the opportunity to participate in a sport I love. It was a balance of paying homage to that and my intrinsic desire to be really good at something.
What role do you think sports have in change and activism?
A huge role! Let’s get real, sports are sexy. There is beauty in the game, the unknown, the amount of suffering and pressure one must endure to reach the highest level in sports. For that and so many more reasons, audiences are captivated in the storylines of the players, coaches, teams, events, etc. Not everybody can be a great athlete, but an athlete can come from anywhere. That platform is very powerful. It opens minds, makes things relatable, and makes people pay attention.
Who inspires you?
This one is pretty tough. There’s no one person. I’m inspired by a lot of people. Inspiration can be drawn from anywhere, truly. I’ve always been overly curious about just about everything and have been taught to have an insatiable appetite to learn.
The relationship between masculinity and sports manifests a lot of internalized homophobia for athletes and non-athletes. As a community how do you think we can tackle this issue?
I get asked this a bit and I hate this question. It boils down to how are “we” defining masculinity. If we define it as “a set of attributes, behaviors, or roles associated with men.” These “standards” are obviously different given cultures and time periods. One way to tackle such an issue would be to always associate masculinity with acceptance.
Your Go-To track for exercising?
This varies on the regular but recently it’s been “Fall at Your Feet” by Lucy Neville or the Matoma Remix of “Hurt Somebody” by Noah Kahan.
“I’m motivated by knowing what it feels like to have a regret and not wanting to have that feeling.”
What have you learnt about yourself this year?
Be vulnerable, it’s okay.
Are there any young athletes or creatives that excite you for the future?
In terms of athletics, I always have a keen eye on tennis. There’s a young, talented male player from Korea who is showing so much moxie on court and that’s so exciting to see. Oh yeah! The Winter Olympics! I recently watched Starr Andrews skate an awesome free skate to her own interpretation of Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time.” I loved that and love that song haha.
Goals for 2018?
A successful launch of the tech company I’m getting up and running. Exciting times in the world of tech and I’m proud to be a part of something rather impactful. More details to come.
Do you have any future projects that you can tell us about?
Yea! There are two that directly impact the communities I grew up in. In middle school I ran track and field. They awarded the “Derek Jackson Award” to the hardest working student-athlete, one guy and girl, on the track team. When I was a 6th grader I received it, and it meant a lot that my work was appreciated on and off the field. The award was any pair of track spikes you wanted! I went and got an awesome, flashy gold pair that was a close as possible to Michael Johnson’s 1996 spikes from the Atlanta Olympic Games. I’m pleased to be able to contribute to that award so that now multiple hard-working, student-athletes can have that recognition and opportunity with youth sport.
Additionally, I partnered with a good friend of mine from HS (we actually went to prom together), to offer a scholarship to an outstanding, college-going, High-School senior from our Alma Mater. My mom and sisters are educators. The woman I partnered with to produce this scholarship taught in Teach-for-America right after undergrad. We all understand and value the correlation of education to opportunity, so this is a way to provide that opportunity for somebody else.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
A quote from a song or song title. I recently listened to Donny Hathaway’s “A song for you” on repeat so let’s go with that. I’d graffiti “A Song for You.”