LGBT athletes have been moving in droves to the forefront of the sports world with unabashed pride for the past two years. Now a new gay sports star has emerged thanks to five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Ian Thorpe , who came out of the closet this past weekend.
According to the Associated Press, Thorpe revealed his sexuality to the world while chatting with British talk show host Michael Parkinson in an interview broadcast on Australia’s Channel 10 on Sunday.
“I’m not straight,” Thorpe said. “And this is only something that very recently — we’re talking in the past two weeks — I’ve been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that.”
In the interview, Thorpe talks about his years in the closet, including his 2012 autobiography, This Is Me, in which he vehemently denied being gay. “For the record, I am not gay and all of my sexual experiences have been straight. I’m attracted to women, I love children, and aspire to have a family one day.”
Thorpe says that he began lying about his sexuality to the press when he was a teen because he still wasn’t sure what his sexual orientation was.
“I felt the lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity,” he said. “And a little bit of ego comes into this; I didn’t want people to question … have I lied about everything?”
Thorpe now says that he wishes he would’ve come out sooner.
“I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man,” he said. “And I don’t want young people to feel the same way that I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.”
Thorpe also explains that he feared coming out as gay because he didn’t want to lose his family’s love and respect.
“I wanted to make my family proud. I wanted to make my nation proud of me. And part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay,” he said. “But I’m telling not only Australia, but I’m telling the world, that I am.”
However, all questions about whether Thorpe’s family would be disappointed in him were dashed after the interview aired because his father, Ken Thorpe, who says he “had no idea,” Ian was gay, spoke with Channel Seven News and shared his thoughts about his son’s sexuality.
“It was a shock because we never had any inclination that Ian was that way inclined,” Mr Thorpe told Seven News.
“God loves Ian, and we love Ian unconditionally … and we will support him,” he added.
We commend Thorpe on coming out and we’re glad to see that his family is defying outdated thoughts about homosexuality and embracing Thorpe as he is. –nicholas robinson