“YOU’RE a fag. You’re a queen. You’re undeserving of love. You’re never going to amount to anything.”
This was the mantra of US swimming star Tom Luchsinger, who publicly came out as gay in a personal essay published in Outsports this week.
As a result, he gained sponsorship, won a legion of fans, and was named a hopeful for making the 2016 Olympic team.
However, behind his rise to fame Luchsinger endured mental toil while coming to terms with his sexuality.
In his open letter, he admits to being “the King of the Double Life”, balancing his self-loathing with a carefully-crafted public image and social media presence.
“After years of stress, hate, and disgust toward myself, I have come to accept who I am,” he wrote.
Lushsinger is one of a growing number of top-grade athletes publicly coming out — and not the first swimmer, either.
Arguably the most high-profile sportsperson to have come out this year was Australia’s most decorated Olympian Ian Thorpe, who came out in an interview broadcast on primetime TV.
During the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Belle Brockhoff was the only openly-gay athlete in the Australian team.
Last month Simon Dunn — who was part of the winning Sydney Convicts team at this year’s Bingham Cup, the gay rugby world cup tournament held every two years — became the first openly-gay athlete to compete in bobsleigh.
The 2018 winter Olympic hopeful recently told the Star Observer: “As an openly-gay athlete, I feel passionate about representing my country, and redefining the identity of the sport, one unmarred by sexual orientation.”
Across the Tasman, New Zealand rower and 2012 Olympian Robbie Manson also publicly came out recently in an essay on Outsports.
Manson wrote the piece “to show other people who might be struggling with their sexuality, not only that it’s okay to be gay, but it’s a good thing, and it won’t change who you are or limit what you can achieve”.