Australian Olympic Champion Ian Thorpe Comes Out as Gay in Television Interview

Ian Thorpe, revered as one of the greatest swimmers in history (he’s on anybody’s short list of 5), has revealed that he is gay in an apparent interview with Channel 10 interviewer Sir Michael Parkinson.

While there are many in the swimming community who are openly gay, making such an admission not typically a paradigm-shifting announcement, Thorpe’s is significant for several reasons.

For starters, in Australia, he is one of the country’s greatest sports heroes. Swimming there holds a much higher place in the pecking order than it does in most of the world, and while Australia is generally a fairly open and accepting place for homosexuality, sporting there has not been so easily swayed.

More importantly, it sheds some light on the depression and battles with substance abuse that Thorpe has been dealing with. In addition to the struggles that all athletes go to when transitioning to the dry-life, Thorpe has been keeping his sexuality a secret, and according to, in the interview Thorpe draws a connection between the two.

The full interview will air on Channel 10 at 6PM on Saturday night.

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Very brave of him! Him coming out will hopefully help many young swimmers who’s in the same situation as him!


Why is a persons sexuality news??? How is this “brave”? Sure, 20 years ago, or even ten…but these days I’m more shocked when gay athletes don’t admit it…


Your’e kidding right? I want to come live in your world. When Michael Sam was drafted by the Rams and kissed his boyfriend, by the reaction you would think he had mugged someone. Yeah, sweetie, it’s brave. Especially for an athlete.


He isn’t brave. He is being narcissistic. Coming “out” is the essence of narcissism.

Lazy observer

Admitting one is gay is narcissistic? So, what, being straight is selfless? As in, “I only care about others, which is why I haven’t announced I am straight.”.


What???? You’re not serious? Yikes. And that’s exactly because of people like that he (and many) denied, hid during all these years. Sad.


He did not voluntarily “come out”. He was asked if he lied before and he gave honest answer.

David Berkoff

Boy, catholic swimmer, your posts always seem to castigate or attack those who violate the Godly doctrine that seems to rule your mentality. It must be really sad to live your lifeline constant fear of not getting though the pearly gates. In the meantime, please keep your hate to yourself.

Patrick Keenan

Thank you David for that reply. Hatred should NOT be welcome in the comments section on this site; opinion and freedom of speech are one thing,and totally separate from using pejoratives or hated filled words; swimming is a fair sport and should free from all things negative. Catholic Swimmer, Jesus loved all, and that means ALL those who you feel are sinners, and your statement is both uncalled for and intolerable. Shame on you.


Even though most of the world agrees with me, I am well aware that American swimming is, in many ways, operating within a secular humanist bubble.


“He isn’t brave. He is being narcissistic. Coming “out” is the essence of narcissism.”

If that was the case then surely he would have come out much, much sooner? Stupidest comment ever…


Open your eyes, look beyond your own borders. Over 80 countries outlaw homosexuality, some of which have the death penalty. Even in those which do not, gay men are often killed by fellow villagers while lesbians are tried to be changed, using “corrective rape”. This still happens, in 2014. Then you call gay people who are free to be themselves narcissists for expressing who we are? Situation – You have a life long friend, you presume she/he is straight, as everybody does. You see them kissing their partner, somebody of the same sex… You know how you’d react, “I didn’t know you were gay?”. People are obsessed by sexuality, sadly. It seems gay people can’t win, don’t tell people and… Read more »


Well, yeah. Good for him to come out, but this isn’t news to most of us in the swim world. But nobody can force him or make him feel obligated to do so. I hope this helps other swimmers who feare the same backlash that he probably felt. Hope hes healthy, hope hes happy, all the best!

Lazy Observer

I hope coming out brings him peace and allows him to enjoy his life and live it fully.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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