There’s a time and a place for everything: five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe has finally come to terms with his sexuality. Thorpe briefly took attention away from Germany’s World Cup win on Sunday and made headlines for finally admitting he’s gay.
Despite denying his sexuality for years, the athlete ended all the chatter with one televised appearance on Australia’s Channel 10. Speaking with British talk show host Michael Parkinson, Thorpe said, “I’m not straight 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.”
Thorpe, who retired his swimming gear just two years ago, said that the efforts to hide his sexuality were sort of like one big media snowball. During the interview, he explained that when his sexuality was questioned as a teen, he was too young to even know what straight or gay was. He would simply identify as a heterosexual male to avoid any taunting from his classmates — but the lie would go on for years to come. “I felt the lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity,” he confessed.
Just like other gay athletes, Thorpe admits he wants to be a role model of sorts for the young teenagers, saying, “I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man 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.”
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Thorpe’s big-time revelation is a stark contrast from his statements just a few years ago. Back in 2012, his autobiography This Is Me explored his headline-making sexuality and clarified any murmuring word at the time. “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,” he wrote.