Jack Vidgen has paid tribute to Australia’s first openly gay bobsledder and Sydney Convicts Rugby club representative Simon Dunn following his sudden death.
Police and his agent Ruby Rose Management confirmed Monday the death of the 35-year-old, who pioneered both sports.
Jack, 26, shared a series of photos of Simon on his Instagram story, writing: “Today I woke up to some very sad news.”
Jack Vidgen (pictured) has paid tribute to Australia’s first openly gay bobsledder Simon Dunn after his shock death aged just 35
“Rest in peace honey,” he said.
Police confirmed Simon’s death in a statement on Monday.
“About 10am on Saturday 21 January 2023, police were called to a unit in Crown Street, Surry Hills after reports of a man’s body being found inside,” New South Wales Police said.
Dunn traveled to Canada for work and found a new love in bobsleigh, where he represented Australia in the North American Cup.
Jack, 26, shared a series of photos of Simon on his Instagram story and wrote: ‘Today I woke up to some very sad news’
He would eventually join the Convicts, Australia’s first gay rugby team to compete in the Sydney Suburban Rugby Union championship, and the Kings Cross Steelers in London.
In 2021, Dunn attempted a comeback to bobsleigh and announced his plans to represent Australia at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, only to suffer a serious bicep injury that forced him into early retirement.
His efforts would lead to nominations for the Australian LGBTI Awards Sports Personality of the Year in both 2018 and 2019.
In addition to his sporting accolades, Dunn was also known for his community work, LGBTIAQ+ advocacy, and work in the arts.
Police and his agent Ruby Rose Management both confirmed the death of the 35-year-old on Monday, breaking new ground in both sports.
He also called out former Wallaby Israel Folau on Sky News for his controversial comments that all gays went to hell.
“There is still homophobia in sports. It’s a culture that’s been created and embedded over decades and I think we’re still at the end of that with the work we have to do to end it,” Dunn said at the time.
Rugby is a more accepting sport, but most of the negative feedback [is] of football supporters.’
Dunn also attracted media attention for kissing his then-partner after the Sydney Convicts won their grand final.
Dunn had also previously spoken openly about his struggles, with his sexuality, mental health and dealing with injuries.
Dunn touched many lives in the community and the tributes poured in after his shocking death at just 35 years old
Tributes flow for the beloved athlete, friend, family member and LGBTIAQ+ advocate.
“Very heartbreaking to hear the sad news of Simon’s passing at the age of 35,” wrote Paul Flanigan.
“My thoughts and condolences go out to his family and those closest to him. He will be missed in so many ways. A real all-round nice guy, who had time for everyone.
“True sportsman and for his valued view of the LGBTQ+ community and passionate about giving back to the community.”
DJ and drag performer Kitty Glitter also posted a touching tribute.
“I knew him as a young cute teenager and watched him blossom into the beautiful man and talented, outstanding athlete. I am in shock and heartbroken… We all loved [him] honey,” she wrote.
“Our community has lost one of the most genuine, kind-hearted sweethearts the world has ever been blessed with. My heart goes out to all of Simon’s family and friends. His loving energy and spirit will live on through us forever.”
Dunn was an avid athlete who wanted to make a difference in the world and leave a huge hole for everyone he touched in his life