The Australian swimmer who has won five Gold medals at the Olympics is applauded by musicians and public figures for his revealing interview.
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."