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 news.co.au, in the interview Thorpe draws a connection between the two.

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

89
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
89 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Eric
7 years ago

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

Whocares
Reply to  Eric
7 years ago

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…

Cate
Reply to  Whocares
7 years ago

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sDmxuQTDf0

Catholicswimmer
Reply to  Whocares
7 years ago

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

Lazy observer
Reply to  Catholicswimmer
7 years ago

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.”.

Jan
Reply to  Catholicswimmer
7 years ago

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.

aswimfan
Reply to  Catholicswimmer
7 years ago

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

David Berkoff
Reply to  Catholicswimmer
7 years ago

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
Reply to  David Berkoff
7 years ago

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.

Catholicswimmer
Reply to  David Berkoff
7 years ago

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.

SprintDude9000
Reply to  Catholicswimmer
7 years ago

“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…

Dee
Reply to  Catholicswimmer
7 years ago

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… Read more »

rjcid
7 years ago

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
7 years ago

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

Steve Nolan
7 years ago

Oh snap. Did he always “no comment” regarding this kinda thing?

Hopefully making this public only helps him in regards to his recent troubles.

Billy
7 years ago

This is no surprise, it explains all the troubles he’s been having. I had suspicions that he was……..There have been rumours for years.

I hope everything works out for him. I met him once in Long Beach at a pre 2004 Olympic Trial meet. He was a nice guy and a incredible swimmer.

I wish him the best!

beachmouse
7 years ago

May he find peace in his life. He’s had such a rough time in recent years.

aswimfan
7 years ago

I hope he finally finds peace.

It was this struggle dealing with his sexuality coupled with intense pressure and spotlight in Australia that forced him to retire so early and to have troubles with his well-being.

so many “what ifs….”

Danjohnrob
7 years ago

I hope I speak for everybody in the swimming community when I say we love Ian just the same, gay or straight, and this revelation doesn’t change the amount of admiration we have for his accomplishments in the pool one bit! I’m only sorry he has felt the need to keep a secret like this for so long, because it seems to have affected his enjoyment of life. You deserve to be happy, Ian!

swimmer
Reply to  Danjohnrob
7 years ago

Agree- doesn’t matter if he is gay or straight- it doesn’t and shouldn’t take away from his accomplishments in the pool. Wish we could’ve seen him compete at a high level with Phelps just one more time

liquidassets
Reply to  swimmer
7 years ago

As fans, your point about his potential to do battle with Phelps, et. al., for several more years is one of the hardest parts of all this, and I’m sure that it weighs on him much, much more heavily than on us. While he may have doubted Phelps in Beijing, the reality is that if he’d had a more “normal” career arc he would have been 25 and peaking in Beijing and may well have had a chance to be a thorn in Phelp’s side, in the 200 free.

BaldingEagle
Reply to  liquidassets
7 years ago

Thorn in Phelps’ side in the 200 free, and possibly making the AUS 400 and 800 FR faster. All conjecture, of course, but his training and swimming in Australia could have made training partners/national teammates faster, at a time when Australia was definitely between generations. In 2008, Hackett was the only one left of that great generation of swimmers, which included relay champions and record-setters Michael Klim, Geoff Huegill, Matt Welsh, Todd Pearson, Ashley Calus, etc. Perhaps Hackett’s speed was affected by not having a Thorpe in the 200/400 double… the scenarios abound…

However, I hope that Thorpe, one of the greatest swimmers in history, feels a big burden lifted and can appreciate all that he achieved. Congratulations, Thorpey!

Cabry
Reply to  BaldingEagle
7 years ago

Small point–Ian was training in California. The fact that the Aussie media followed and stalked him there was part of the reason for retirement. I’m pretty sure if they had just left him alone, he would have swum at least through 2008.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. 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, …

Read More »