In what was anticipated as a very emotional and revealing interview with British interviewer Sir Michael Parkinson, five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe has reportedly confirmed that he is gay. According to the Sunday Telegraph, the Australian Olympic hero revealed his sexuality in a tell-all interview set to air on Australian television on Sunday night.
The admission comes after years of denying rumors regarding his sexuality. Parkinson described the interview as “one of the best” he has ever conducted because of the fascination he developed for the celebrated Australian athlete, who he said before the interview, intrigued him because of his disconnect from the celebrity life. It was also Thorpe’s bravery in making a full admission to being gay and sharing his personal struggle with depression.
The 31-year-old previously denied the gay rumors and addressed his feelings about people making assumptions about his personal life in his autobiography “This Is Me.” In the book, published in 2012, Thorpe wrote, “The thing that I find hurtful about it is that people are questioning my integrity and what I say. That’s the only part I find hurtful, that this is something I would be embarrassed about and that I would hide.”
Thorpe is obviously not embarrassed about the person he is today and has had to come a long way to reach a destination in his life where he is internally happy. He has defeated depression and opened up to the world about what bleeds inside his heart. Parkinson felt the interview was rewarding beyond Thorpe’s revelation that he is gay. He said after the interview, “I think his sexuality is no one’s business but his own. 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.”
The former Olympic swimmer is just the latest athlete and public figure to come out as gay over the last few years. By now, it’s certainly not as big of a deal as it was years ago, but it is still scary for someone in Thorpe’s position who is just seeking acceptance. Another openly gay Australian Olympic athlete, Matthew Mitcham, knows the challenges Thorpe has been through and may still have to face. The former diver is hoping the revelation gives Thorpe internal peace and brings about respect from the public.
Mitcham said, “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.” Ian Thorpe is now on a growing list of international athletes who have come out publicly as gay.