Luke Strong is not the type to "throw in the towel" when faced with a little adversity. The five-time British trampoline gymnastics champion has battled the odds his entire career, so when he recently came out as bi on the BBC LGBT Sport Podcast he made it clear he doesn't care much for what the haters may think.
"It doesn't bother me," Strong told the BBC. "I feel sorry for people like that who are close-minded and still think it's offensive to be called gay -- because it's not."
The 27-year-old Liverpool native has been facing adversity and doubters throughout his career. Where membership on sports teams is often seen as something cool growing up through childhood and adolescence, Strong noted his particular sport had the opposite effect.
"Especially wearing a leotard, doing gymnastics, doing the splits," he revealed. "You get the typical 'you're a fairy' and the gay jokes."
Strong described a brief period as a young adolescent where "the bullying was bad" and he "wouldn't really talk about trampolining" with his schoolmates because he was embarrassed. Things changed a little when people realized just how talented he was, but even within the trampoline gymnastic community he faced opposition.
At the age of 15 he suffered a gruesome break of his tibia and fibia that left him "ten minutes from losing my left leg" as Strong recalled. While he spent a month in the hospital repairing the damaged leg, messages left anonymously on a online trampoline forum talked about how his "career was over" and "it was bound to happen" because the 15-year-old was "always a little bit weak anyway." In typical fashion, Strong used their hate to power his recovery and comeback.
\u201c\u2018If the plan doesn\u2019t work, change the plan never the goal.\u2019 \u2728\u201d
— Luke Strong \ud83e\udd38\ud83c\udffd\u200d\u2642\ufe0f (@Luke Strong \ud83e\udd38\ud83c\udffd\u200d\u2642\ufe0f)
While Strong never was in the closet, this marks the first time he has spoken about his sexuality publicly.
"I've never hidden anything and I'm really open about the fact that I'm attracted to both sexes, male and female," he explained. "But I've never been in a relationship with either of them so I don't know."