In 2016, Markus Thormeyer competed on the Canadian Olympic swim team. And while he didn’t win, he hope to be back at the major event for the upcoming Tokyo games. If he happens to snag a spot, he will do so as the latest openly gay team member, having come out in an editorial for Outsports.
“In 2015, I had a good competitive swim season and realized my dream of competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics might come true,” he wrote. “I graduated high school and decided to train in Vancouver and follow my dream of competing at the Olympics. I was willing to put everything on the line, but something was holding me back. It was the secret I was keeping — that I was gay.”
In the op-ed, Thormeyer writes that being closeted became a huge strain on not only his practice but his relationships with his teammates. He kept his sexuality a secret because he feared that he wouldn’t be accepted. While he didn’t know for sure, he didn’t want to take the chance. This all culminated in Thormeyer breaking down one day and deciding to come out to the team.
“I’m not a dramatic person, so I didn’t want to make a big scene when I was coming out, I just wanted it to happen organically in normal conversation,” he wrote. “One day, we were all hanging out and the topic of relationships came up in conversation. This was my moment. I casually said that I had never been on a date with a guy before and I was kind of scared of it. That I’d probably be a nervous wreck and ruin it.
“Then, without a sliver of judgment or skipping a beat, my friends told me that I’d probably be fine on a date as long as I just had a good time and just was comfortable being myself.” With this weight gone, the swimmer says that his practices and performance got better and he went on to have the “best competition of [his] life.” He’s also gone on to win a medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and is a part of Team Canada’s OneTeam which promotes LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports.
"I want to share my story and be able to spread the message that it’s OK to be gay,” he wrote. “Life is much better when you fully embrace you for who you are.”