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SBD Global/July 14, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Ian Thorpe Reveals Sexual Orientation, Mental Health Problems, Alcohol Abuse On Live TV

Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe reveals on live TV that he is gay.
Australian swimmer IAN THORPE "revealed that he is gay and battled depression and alcohol abuse for the greater part of his world-beating swimming career," according to Robertson & Bagshaw of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. In an interview with British talkshow host MICHAEL PARKINSON, aired on Channel Ten on Sunday, Thorpe "put an end to years of speculation and contradicted his own numerous and declarative denials to say that he is gay." He said, "I'm not straight." Thorpe also "opened up about his problems with mental health and admitted to contemplating suicide at the depths of his depression." Thorpe: "I couldn't do it to [friends and family]. It was the only thing that stopped me" (SMH, 7/13). REUTERS' Ian Ransom wrote "one of Australia's favourite sons, Thorpe had long denied he was gay and wrote in his 2012 autobiography 'This Is Me' that he was heterosexual." In the book, Thorpe wrote, "For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight. I'm attracted to women, I love children and aspire to have a family one day." He "admitted a big part of his reticence was that he worried that being gay would not fit into his image as 'Australia's champion.'" He said, "Now it'll be something that I work on with a doctor. I wanted to make my family proud, I wanted to make my nation proud. Part of me didn't know if Australia wanted it's champion to be gay" (REUTERS, 7/13). In Sydney, Eryk Bagshaw noted Australian diver MATTHEW MITCHAM "came out as gay before winning" a Gold Medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. He said that "Thorpe's enormous fame meant his revelation was unprecedented in terms of the impact it would have." Mitcham said, "There is no precedent, not on this scale. It must have been a very harrowing ordeal." Mitcham said that sponsorship commitments "would have weighed heavily on any athlete deciding whether to go public with their sexuality; the stereotypes and the stigma are well known." He said, "That's why we need high-profile gay athletes, to prove the stereotype wrong. Thorpe is about as high profile as it gets" (SMH, 7/13).
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