BRITISH RACE WALKER
I’d delayed telling my parents. I wondered if it was a mistake, or if I could change myself. I looked for a long, long time.
I waited until I was 21, when I was in a happy relationship and I felt like I had a reason to tell my parents. So when I decided to tell the world, I did it for I wanted to have a worry-free season going into an Olympic year, and wanted to focus on my training. Everyone wants to know every detail about their country’s Olympians, and social media is a great tool things out. I decided I wanted to come out on my own terms. Of course, I was only able to do that because I’ve got so much support from my family, my partner, the GB team and my training team. Everybody was aware and didn’t care, and because I had that strong set up, I was able to tell the world. I realise now that there’s a big responsibility that comes with doing something like that, and I’m proud of that, and I want to honour that. I want to respect that responsibility. Coming out has done wonders for my career – I’ve got such a big new fan base and so much support. But I’ve always said that I don’t want my sexuality to my name into Google, that comes up. Yet, thankfully after the season I’ve had – I’ve set four British records this past year – my sporting achievements are starting to take centre stage.
the Olympics, I’ll be competing alongside people from around the world, some from countries who have a pretty poor record on LGBT+ rights. When I came out, I did worry that some of my fellow athletes would take issue with it. I’ve got many international friends that I see around the world, but they were absolutely nothing, which shows how like-minded the majority of the world is. Just because a country has different rules and laws to ours, it really doesn’t speak for the nation itself.
At this year’s Olympic Games, we’re going to have more representation than ever before with openly LGBT+ athletes competing – the number might not be that high, but it’s important the community is represented during a worldwide event. Rio is such a diverse city, their festivals and parades are so flamboyant and colourful, so if the games can be the most welcoming for LGBT+ people, then I really hope it’s at Rio. We need more athletes that can live openly and show that absolutely nothing has changed because of their sexuality. That was one of the reason’s that drove me on to succeed, to prove that my sexuality does not track, that I can be really good at what I do, and still live openly, and be myself, and be gay.