Brazilian Diver Ian Matos, Inspired by Tom Daley to Come Out, Dead at 32

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday December 24, 2021
Originally published on December 22, 2021

Brazilian Olympic diver Ian Matos, who credited British diving champ Tom Daley with inspiring him to come out, has died at age 32 from a lung infection, UK newspaper The Sun reported.

The young athlete had represented Brazil in the 2016 Olympics. Prior to that, in 2010, he competed in the South American Games and took three bronze medals, The Sun noted.

Matos had sought medical attention for a throat infection that later spread to his lungs, Brazilian news site Nenroll detailed, recounting that Matos had been placed on a ventilator. But then, last month, he "got better, was taken out of his breathing apparatus and had contact with his family."

However, his condition "deteriorated again and this Tuesday's respiratory arrest put an end to his life," Nenroll explained. Further medical details were not available.

Matos — whose full name was Ian Carlos Gonçalves de Matos — "revealed in a newspaper interview in 2014 he had been inspired to stop hiding his sexuality by Tom Daley," The Sun recalled.

That interview was given to Brazilian news outlet Correio, More Sports reported at the time.

In that interview, Matos disclosed that, "Since I was little, I knew I was gay," but it wasn't until he moved to Rio de Janeiro to pursue his athletic ambitions "that I managed to experience my sexuality."

When Daley — who won the Gold Medal for Britain in last summer's Tokyo Olympics — came out publicly, Matos told the publication that he joked with a friend and "said I was going to do it too. He advised me to wait for the Olympics [in Rio, in 2016] so as not to stop receiving sponsorship" backing.

Matos opted not to wait. But once he emerged from the closet, the diver said he experienced some pushback. "It seems that, as a homosexual, you start one level down," he told Correio. "I heard a lot 'I won't lose to a faggot,' or 'I can't believe you lost to a faggot,'" he said.

The public responded with kindness and generosity to Matos' illness.

"Friends and well-wishers organized a fundraising drive last month so the diver's mum and siblings could travel to Rio and accompany him while he was receiving medical attention," The Sun said.

"The appeal nearly doubled its £1,300 [about $1,700] target in just a few days."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.