Swiss professional basketball player Marco Lehmann has come out in an article he wrote for FIBA.com as well as a video posted to YouTube. The veteran player declared he was tired of leading a double life and wanted to play the next season as a proud and happy gay man.
"My name is Marco Lehmann," he wrote. "I'm a 27-year-old professional 3x3 basketball player and I decided I would not wait until I retire to announce that I'm gay."
As a youth progressing through the ranks of Swiss league play, Lehmann realized he was gay. Fearful of being discovered, he began to lead a double life as he progressed into a successful pro career as an adult.
He described his mixed feelings upon beating the number one team in the world in 3x3 play, watching as his teammates embraced and kissed their girlfriends on the court in front of the cameras and crowds, and unsure whether he should embrace and kiss his boyfriend.
In the end, they exchanged fist bumps.
He wrote of a similar experience after he was crowned the top Swiss scorer in the Swiss Basketball League for the 2016-2017 season. It was a gala event, with even the national sports minister attending. But he feared the headlines if he brought his boyfriend as his guest to the ceremony, so he went alone.
By 2019, the stress of leading a double life finally caught up to him. He wrote about how his boyfriend would drive him to the airport, describing how the minute he went through security "the happy gay man in a relationship turned into the emotionless pro athlete, who didn't want to talk about his personal life."
In the end, though, Lehmann realized he was only cheating himself.
"I feel everybody should be allowed to be themselves and be able to give their best in sports," he said. "But to be able to give your best first you must be yourself."
His goal now is to live openly as a gay athlete, while also helping Switzerland National Team qualify for the 2024 Olympics.
"I am really looking forward to the fac that from this point on, I won't have to lead a double life anymore," he beamed. "That I will be able to live normally and put my main focus on basketball again."
He has not yet shown his boyfriend.
"Wow, I'm totally overwhelmed by all the positive reactions and messages I received from all around the world!" Lehmann wrote on Instagram. "Touched by your amazing feedback, I'm looking forward to start into a completely free and unworried part of my career."
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