Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe comes out of the closet in a TV interview. "I've thought about this for a long time. I'm not straight," said the country's most decorated Olympian in a chat with Sir Michael Parkinson on Channel 10 on Sunday night, July 13.
"This is only something that very recently - we're talking in the past two weeks - I've been comfortable telling the closest people around me," the retired athlete explained. "I've wanted to (come out) for some time, but I couldn't. I didn't feel as though I could."
Thorpe previously denied he was gay in his 2012 autobiography "This Is Me". "For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight," he wrote in the book. "I'm attracted to women, I love children and aspire to have a family one day."
But he now said, "The problem was, I was asked at such a young age about my sexuality. I went to an all-boys school... so if you're accused of being gay, the first answer is no and you get ready for a fight." He added, "I felt that the lie had become so big that I didn't want people to question my integrity and I didn't want people to think that I had lied about everything."
"I was already living somewhat of a lie in my life because I was trying to be what I thought was the right athlete by other people's standards," he added. "I wanted to make my family proud, I wanted to make my nation proud. Part of me didn't know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay."
"I am telling not only Australia I'm telling the world that I am and I hope this makes it easier for others now," the five-time gold medalist went on. "I am telling the world that I am gay. I hope this makes it easier for others now. ... Even if you've held it in for years, it feels easier to get it out."
"I'm comfortable saying I'm a gay man. And I don't want people to feel the same way I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay."
Support and praise came pouring in from fellow celebrities. "Welcome to freedom @IanThorpe - you have inspired and helped so many by being brave," Darren Hayes tweeted. Ricky Martin wrote, "Congrats @IanThorpe! Brave man! Happy for you! Millions appreciate what you've done! Proud of you! #SelfLove."