Gay athlete on ‘powerful’ kiss with boyfriend after qualifying for Olympics

Campbell Harrison kissing his partner after qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

A gay athlete who shared a kiss with his boyfriend after qualifying for the Paris Olympics has described the gesture as “powerful”.

In an Instagram post, Australian sports climber Campbell Harrison shared the emotional moment his eight-year dream became a reality after bagging a perfect score at the Oceania boulder and lead qualifier.

After celebrating his win atop the bouldering wall, Harrison shared a kiss with his partner, Justin, who he said has “been everything to me”.

The kiss was heralded as a revolutionary moment for queer representation in sports by not-for-profit groups and sporting activists.

Speaking to Outsports, Harrison said that he didn’t think too much its significance at the time.

“From what I could see, every athlete who qualified kissed their partner on the live stream,” he said. “But when it’s two men, it catches attention for sure. And that can be a good and powerful thing.

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“I’m glad all the feedback I’ve seen has been so positive, but it’s interesting how this one really caught people’s eye: the same-sex couple.”

In his original post, Harrison told homophobes to “forever f**k off”, and thanked the queer community.

“This was the culmination of more than a decade of blood, swear, tears and utter heart-break,” he wrote in November. “I wouldn’t be here without the people supporting me along the way, there are too many to name.

“The part of me that erupted at the top of the wall was pain, fury, joy and pride. I cried like I’ve never cried before, because this accomplishment is of a magnitude I could never fully comprehend. I’m going to the Olympics.”

Harrison’s activism and representation in Australian sports, as well as the kiss, was recognised by the Australian group, Pride in Sport, which has nominated him as LGBTQ+ role model of the year.

He said that his confidence in his own identity developed over time as he became “more comfortable” with himself.

“The response I’ve had from the queer community for being more vocal about who I am has been so empowering,” he said. “Especially since qualifying for the Olympics. I’ve been totally overwhelmed.”

He was Australia’s top-ranked climber and on course for selection for the 2020 Olympics, in Tokyo, when COVID-19 lockdowns and his sister’s cancer diagnosis forced him to end his bid. Now, his dream has finally come true.