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Ian Thorpe reveals he is gay

Jul 12, 2014, 6:28 PM EDT

Ian Thorpe Getty Images

Nine-time Olympic swimming medalist Ian Thorpe revealed he is gay in a TV interview set to air in Australia on Sunday, according to Australian reports.

Thorpe, the most decorated Australian Olympian ever, has been asked about his sexual orientation for years, since he became the home swimming star of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

“For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight,” Thorpe wrote in his 2012 autobiography, “This Is Me.”

Thorpe won nine medals over the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, retired and attempted a comeback for the 2012 Olympics, failing to make the Australian team.

The swimmer recently admitted to struggles with depression and alcohol abuse and was in rehab and a hospital earlier this year.

“I think his sexuality is no one’s business but his own,” interviewer Michael Parkinson said, according to the Daily Telegraph. “But I think it’s one of the best interviews I have ever done in terms of [Thorpe] talking about depression and things like that.”

Thorpe’s admission brings to mind Australian 2008 Olympic platform diving champion Matthew Mitcham, who is also gay.

“I can totally understand how difficult this whole process has been for him,” Mitcham said, according to the Daily Telegraph. “I really hope this process gives him some peace and that the media and the public give him the same respect and the same overwhelming support I received in 2008. The Australian public and media have a really wonderful opportunity to set an example for kids who are in Ian’s position.”

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  1. nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 13, 2014 at 4:27 AM

    I find it terribly sad how much he damaged himself by being so afraid of being honest about himself. And I find it terribly sad that his fears were not entirely unfounded. It is heartening however, that in the civilized world, the ignorance that has long forced so many to keep unhealthy secrets, is slowly being replaced by enlightenment.

    • daviddmsvcp - Jul 13, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      I’m not a fan of swimming events, and I never heard of Ian Thorpe, but I am fascinated to know that he is a homosexual.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 13, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        I find it a little surprising that if you follow the summer Olympics at all (unless you are quite young) that you would be completely unfamiliar with someone who won so many medals in one of the marquee events. I’m also a little puzzled why you would find so interesting the sexual orientation of someone you’ve never heard of until now. Like, whatever.

    • slbenedict - Jul 13, 2014 at 6:35 PM

      I cannot wait for the day when this is no longer “news.” Who cares. He is a phenomenal athlete and deserves respect for what he has accomplished. His sexual orientation is none of our business.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 13, 2014 at 9:38 PM

        I agree and disagree. Some future day will come when there is no newsworthy disclosure nor attempt to hide with published falsehoods. It will be “our business” insomuch as a person in the public eye (actors, athletes, politicians, etc.) attending a public function such as an awards ceremony or campaign event, and are seen holding hands with their spouse or partner of the same sex. And in that future time, most grownups will react by noting how nice they look all spiffed up, or what pithy things they said, or how it’s someone new (“I didn’t know she’d broken up with Sally”), or perhaps with mild surprise (“oh, I didn’t know he is gay, but my what a nice looking couple they make”). And we’ll feel sad for the few who might still find it upsetting to see public displays of affection by gay couples. It will be like how most of now look at a multi-racial couple, feeling happy they found love in a turbulent world, while some still find it upsetting to their sadly narrow worldview.

  2. bobbiedigital68 - Jul 13, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    We really don’t care about your sexual preference. No judgements this way, however what you will be judged on is your integrity and the fact that you are a liar and to even lie on your own biography? Shame!

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 13, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      Actually Bobble, Mr Thorpe did not discuss his sexual preferences (tall guys, short guys, apparel, positions, etc.). He disclosed his sexual orientation. And while I agree his previous deception on that issue is disappointing, one should perhaps refrain from being too quick to judge until you spend a few minutes pondering the still profound opposition to full equality for sexual minorities in many places, including his own country. Even the fairly liberal former prime minister, Julia Gillard, opposed marriage equality, and the current conservative PM is no more supportive.

      • rite99 - Jul 13, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        To come out with personal sex preferences in the media, which most people abhore, is like me going on TV and saying i believe in beastality and I humped mu dog last night.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 13, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        OK rite99, let’s pretend you aren’t posting foolishness just for fun and look at your errors one at a time.
        Assuming you don’t have a personal preference for being ignorant and would prefer to be well informed, read up on the science of sexual orientation, which is something we are all born with and will explain why someone’s mate is one or another gender (which can indeed quite reasonably be a public thing), as compared with personal preferences, which are private, barring a Playboy interview or the like.
        Most people in civilized societies, as gauged by reliable surveys (and the most recent elections in 4 US states on marriage equality), no longer abhor knowing that their neighbors or favorite athletes or whatever are gay. You will still find majorities of people who share your narrower views in such places as Uganda, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
        Adult humans can legally consent to intimate relations but non-humans cannot, so I’d suggest you not boast of your raping your dog as it will land you in jail.

  3. befashiononline - Jul 13, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    “For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight.” For the record, a straight man would never say something like that. A straight man would say that he likes women.

  4. sw19womble - Jul 13, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    Peer pressure can be a bee-atch. 😦

  5. brsinai - Jul 13, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    I can understand why he felt ashamed to admit it.
    It will never be something one wants to be. It will never be something parents hope their children will become. It will always be a deviance that is ridiculed by many.

  6. cameltoehoe - Jul 14, 2014 at 3:17 AM

    I believe that the gays that are tops have an easier time coming out. Those who are power bottoms have the worst time admitting they are who they are.

  7. entitymn - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    I only wish him the best. Too many stories about his struggles, not enough about his triumphs. I am a big fan of US swimming, and we need a good rival, and for a long time that has been the Aussies, and for a good stretch, Ian was their figurehead and superstar. He may not have dominated the entire sport like Phelps did, but in the events he was dominant in, he dominated them like nobody since Janet Evans. As a fellow human being, as well as an admirer of his accomplishments, I am happy to see him figuring himself out.

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