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Gold medalist Kerron Clement is finally ready to share his story. The track athlete publicly came out Friday, on National Coming Out Day, exclusively telling Out, "I was tired of loving in the dark."
"I have been through what a lot of people have been through which is being afraid of being who you are," he says. "I struggled with my sexuality for 17 years. Over time, as you get older, you care less. Now it's time to just be yourself and be free. That's what I've become, free."
Clement competed in the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games, in Beijing and Rio de Janeiro, respectively. The track star won gold and silver medals in 2008, and another gold medal during his Olympic return. He's long been an advocate and supporter of inclusion in sports, as evidenced by his support of Nike's BETRUE campaign in which he's featured.
His coming out -- or as he prefers to say, "I'm just telling my story, finally being free and comfortable." -- came ahead of Nike's dedication of a rainbow-colored track at Los Angeles City College Friday morning. The BETRUE Track at LA City College, which is supported by the Gilbert Baker Foundation (named after the man who created the Pride flag), will serve as a community track open Monday to Thursday until 10 p.m. Clement said knowing that Nike supports inclusion, not just of LGBTQ+ athletes but folks of all abilities and identities, helped him be comfortable in sharing his story.
"I have a global brand backing me," he said, mentioning the difficulty some other athletes, like Michael Sam, have had in the past being supported by institutions after sharing their stories publicly. "It's absolutely amazing. I wish all companies would do [what Nike does]."
The Trinidadian-American said it was "difficult" for him to tell his family, but they were ultimately supportive.
"My sister was disappointed, but because I didn't tell her sooner because she could've been there for me and I wouldn't have had to do it by myself," he says.
With that love from his community of family and friends, Clement said he's now experiencing a level of freedom, "exhaling, and not walking around worried" that someone might discover his "secret."
"Once you have that peace -- and I have that peace -- you can exhale," he says, "and move feeling lighter.