The Reason This Olympic Swimmer Stayed In The Closet Is So Real For LGBTQ People

Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe, who has five gold medals to his name, came out as "not straight" in 2014 — 10 years after he last competed in the Olympic games.
In an interview with artist Anh Do, who hosts a show called Anh's Brush With Fame, Thorpe spoke up about the bullying that kept him in the closet for years.
When Do asked Thorpe if he was happy that he had come out, he said yes, absolutely. But he also wishes he had done so earlier.
"You know I was accused of being gay when... I think I was 16 at the time," he said. "But because it was kind of like I was being accused of it, I'd always thought of it as that being a bad thing."
The idea that being gay was bad made it difficult for Thorpe to come out, even to his closet friends.
Many queer people can probably relate to Thorpe's fear, and his reaction to stay in the closet. I remember the first time I learned about gay people very vividly. We were in the car and my grandfather, who was driving, looked out the window at two women who were holding hands and called them "a pair of dykes" with such venom in his voice that I knew whatever a "dyke" was it much be terrible.
I, like Thorpe, denied and hid my sexuality for years, and even when I did finally come out it took another few years before I was comfortable calling myself a lesbian.
Thorpe was 16 when someone accused him of being gay, I was 10 when my grandfather made it clear that women loving other women is disgusting, and many other LGBTQ people grow up with this message as well. The way we talk about sexuality is important, even after a person comes out.
When Thorpe told his friends and family that he wanted to come out to the whole world, they were less than supportive.
"I mentioned to them, 'Do you know, I'm thinking of coming out, you know, on TV, just so it's done,'" he said. People tried to convince him not to at first, telling Thorpe that he should just "get used to it" before coming out publicly.
While they may have been well-meaning, Thorpe's family and friends asking him to "get used to" his sexuality before coming out still implies that it's something to be hidden or ashamed of.
But Thorpe no longer felt like hiding his sexuality, so he came out to the world just two weeks after coming out to his family and friends.
"I was like...No. I will. No, I'm going to do it," he told Do. And he did. Two years after coming out, Thorpe is happy and in an adorable (and very public) relationship.
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