Ian Thorpe comes out of the closet
Australian Olympic swimming champion, Ian Thorpe, has finally found the courage to admit he is gay after years of denials.
In a no-holds barred interview broadcast on Australia’s ‘Channel 10’, Thorpe told TV host Michael Parkinson he just recently realized the truth about himself.
“I’m not straight,” the swimmer 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.”
Thorpe was first asked about his sexuality at the age of 16 and acknowledged he had taken great pains to hide his sexuality.
“I didn’t know at the stage, I was too young,” he said. “I didn’t accept it in myself. I didn’t want to be gay. I was still gay at the end of the day.”
It was the fear of letting down, getting teased by his classmates or hurting his loved ones and especially his country that held him back from revealing the truth.
In his autobiography two years ago, “This Is Me,” he wrote, “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 reasoned, “I felt the lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity.”
Thorpe revealed that holding on to a ‘big lie’ had contributed to his depression. When antidepressants failed to help, he said, he turned to alcohol to ease his pain.
“I kind of felt that it was unfair, that I was doing the right thing, taking the antidepressant, and I’m still miserable,” he said. “So I tried drinking.”
His depression was so severe, it even led him at one point to contemplate suicide but it was his family and friends who held him back.
“I couldn’t do it to them. I think that’s the only thing that stopped me,” Thorpe said.
Now, that he has come out, he wishes he had done so 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.”
“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.”