After years of saying he’s straight, Olympian Ian Thorpe has come out as gay in an interview with Sir Michael Parkinson. The Australian swimmer broke 22 world records and won five Olympic gold medals, three silver medals, and one bronze medal.
In the interview with Parkinson, broadcast Sunday on Australia’s Channel Ten, Thorpe stated bluntly: “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.”
He went on to say that he had wanted to come out for some time but feared the reaction. “What happened was I felt the lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity,” he told Parkinson. “And, you know, a little bit of ego comes into this. I didn’t want people to question that ... have I lied about everything?” He added that he felt some shame about not coming out earlier.
Now, he said, “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.”
His parents, he said, “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.”
In his 2012 autobiography This Is Me, Thrope addressed the speculation that has confronted him for years writing, ‘‘For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight. I’m attracted to women, I love children and aspire to have a family one day … I know what it’s like to grow up and be told what your sexuality is, then realizing that it’s not the full reality. I was accused of being gay before I knew who I was.’’ Thorpe described his struggle with depression, and described considering suicide, and earlier this year he went into a rehabilitation facility to treat depression.
Watch the interview below: