Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe — a five-time Olympic gold medalist — denied being gay for years, even addressing rumors in his 2012 autobiography, This Is Me, writing that he was not gay, was attracted to women, and wanted his own family some day.
The part about wanting his own family is still true, he said in a new interview with Australia's Ten Network. He wants to find love and have kids, but he revealed the truth about his sexuality.
"I'm comfortable saying I'm a gay man," Ian said in the TV interview. "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."
Ian said a part of him didn't know if Australians wanted their champion to be gay. He admitted he's "a little bit ashamed that I didn't come out earlier, that I didn't have the strength to do it," but he hopes this makes it easier for others to be honest.
"What happened was, I felt that the lie had become so big that I didn't want people to question my integrity and a little bit of ego comes into this," Ian said. "I didn't want people to think that I had lied about everything."
He's only recently been able to come out to the people closest to him, and he said his parents told him they love and support him. He also tweeted to fans, after the interview, "To Everyone who has sent a message of support I sincerely Thank you!"
Read more of Ian's interview here, including his struggles with depression. He should be proud of finding the courage not only to come out — because a person's sexuality is his or her own business — but to admit that he had been lying about it for years. It's one thing to just keep your private life private, it's another to publicly share a falsehood because you believe that's the person you should be.
Good for him for openly embracing this part of who he is. And good luck to him on his search for love — someone out there is going to be very happy to have Ian in his life!