Sydney, Australia (4E Sports) – After years of denial, Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer Ian Thorpe said he’s gay, putting an end to rumors that hounded him since he was 15.
The 31-year-old Thorpe, who won five Olympic gold medals for Australia, made the revelation Sunday during an interview with Sir Michael Parkinson.
“What happened was, I felt that the lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity and a little bit of ego comes into this. I didn’t want people to think that I had lied about everything,” said Thorpe.
“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,” he added.
Despite being shocked by the admission, Thorpe said his mother and friends expressed support for his decision to come out.
“I was concerned about the reaction from my family, my friends,” Thorpe said. “I’m pleased to say that in telling them, and especially my parents, they told me that they love me and they support me. And for young people out there, know that that’s usually what the answer is.”
The gay community and the sporting world welcomed Thorpe’s move, saying it would help young gay people and gay athletes to feel supported.
“I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man,” Thorpe said. “And I don’t want people to feel the same way I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.”
During the interview, Thorpe said his secret contributed to the crippling depression he had for most of his life. He said he had been treated for depression since he was 18 and had later self-medicated with alcohol.
“I didn’t want anyone else to know, to share my problems with people, that I’m unhappy because I’m living what is, you know, a dream life for an Australian,” he said.
Thorpe also admitted that he thought about suicide, but never got close because of the pain it would cause friends and family.
With the coming out saga behind him, Thorpe said he was looking forward to finding a partner and to having children: “I’d like my own family.”