Welsh Olympic swimmer Daniel Jervis (26) has come out as gay and said he hopes he can be a role model to other young LGBTQI sportspersons. 

“It took 24 years to be who I was, but now I’m happy. I look in the mirror and I like who I am,”Jervis told BBC Wales. “I was adjusting to everything else, just trying to fit in – until I thought: ‘Just be you.'”

Jervis made it to the finals of the 1500m competition at his first Olympic games in Tokyo and was placed fifth. He has previously won the bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and a silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. He is preparing to snatch a gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next month. 

“You know, we’re just before the Commonwealth Games and there are going to be kids and adults watching who will know that I’m like them, and that I’m proud of who I am,” said Jervis, about his motivation to come out as gay before the Games. 

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“And for so long, I hated who I was – and you see it all the time, people who are dying over this. They hate themselves so much that they’re ending their lives. So if I can just be that someone people can look at and say, ‘yeah, they’re like me,’ then that’s good.”

I Couldn’t Say ‘I’m Gay’

According to Jervis though has known he was gay for the longest time, he couldn’t find the courage to come out. 

It was something in the back of my mind, bugging me. I thought I was bisexual and had girlfriends that I loved – but it came to about three years ago where I knew I had to deal with this,” said Jervis. 

The conflict was impacting his life and mental health. “It wasn’t affecting my swimming, but me as a human being. It sounds quite drastic, but I wasn’t enjoying my life. Yeah, I was smiling, but there was something missing to make me properly happy.”

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Jervis first came out to his counsellor at age 24, and says he found it very difficult to put it in words. “At that point, I’d never said the words out loud to myself. I said to her: ‘I think I’m gay.’ I couldn’t even say: ‘I’m gay.’ It was still… I couldn’t say it. I was basically punching the words out,” Jervis revealed. 

Coming Out

 

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A post shared by Daniel Jervis (@danieljervis1)

 

The Welshman then told his best friend and his family next, their reaction was overwhelmingly supportive and this motivated him to come out to others.

Jervis said he was inspired to come out publicly by other out LGBTQI sports persons like swimmer Michael Gunning, hammer thrower Osian Jones and Olympic swimmer Mark Foster. 

 “I’m still the Dan you’ve always known. You just know something else about me now.” ‘I want to be that person for someone’,” said Jervis.

Jervis also spoke out about his faith. I’m a devout Christian. “I love God, and out of all the things in my life my faith is what I’m most proud of. And there is this thing where people say you can’t be Christian and gay together, and I was sitting there knowing you can be because I am!”



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