OLYMPIC swimmer Ian Thorpe has opened up about being the victim of homophobic bullying.
Thorpe revealed the bullying in an interview with The Age, promoting his appearance in the new series Bullied on the ABC.
“When I started this, I knew that I cared about the kids but I didn’t know that I would start feeling personally responsible for what happens for them, and how to fix this,” he said.
“I know what it feels like when you literally isolate yourself. Even before I was out, people would yell homophobic slurs and things at me.”
Thorpe is a supporter of the current equal marriage campaign and wants young LGBTI people to know they’re not alone.
“I struggled to come out,” he said. “I realised what kind of impact that will have on young people to say, ‘the way you are feeling is equal to anyone else’. They may feel like the only one in their town, and I don’t want young people to go through that.”
The swimmer said he found it difficult to come to terms with his sexuality as a teen.
“I come from a conservative family,” he said. “I didn’t know how they would feel about it. I thought they would be okay but I didn’t know until I told them.”
Thorpe came out as gay in 2014. He has since been involved in activism to reduce homophobia in sport and support young LGBTI people.