Ian Thorpe, the Australian Olympic swimmer who has dodged rumors about his sexuality since taking the gold in the 2000 Sydney Games, has revealed that he is indeed gay. He will confirm his sexuality in an interview with British host Michael Parkinson, which will air tonight.
“I think his sexuality is no one’s business but his own,” said Parkinson. “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."
In the emotional sit-down, Thorpe discussed the depression and substance abuse he battled while denying his homosexuality to the world.
“You know, I’m a little bit different to what most people would consider being an Australian male,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald back in 2002. “That doesn’t make me gay. I mean I’m straight, so people want to claim me as part of a minority group and put labels on you and that’s not what I’m about.”
Back then, Thorpe attributed the rumors to the fact that he was more refined that the average sports hero.
“I try to be articulate, I don’t put on a slang, I don’t try and sound macho, with an Australian accent, just for the sake of having it,” he said. “I have an interest in fashion, I have interests in things most people don’t label as being part of the macho male thing.”
Gold-medal-winning Aussie diver Matthew Mitcham, who is also gay, says he hopes Australia stands behind Thorpe. “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.”