EXCLUSIVE: Olympic legend Ian Thorpe says he has ‘no regrets’ of proudly coming out as gay in 2014 aged 31 – and recalls how it was ‘never appropriate’ to have been asked about his sexuality as a teenager
Ian Thorpe proudly came out as gay during an interview with respected English journalist Sir Michael Parkinson in July 2014, aged 31.
And on Saturday, the now 37-year-old swimming champion told Daily Mail Australia that he has ‘no regrets’ of coming out when he did.
‘I don’t have regrets,’ he said. ‘The reason I don’t, is because I have no ability to change what has happened.’
His story: Ian Thorpe (pictured) proudly came out as gay during an interview with respected English journalist Sir Michael Parkinson in July 2014 aged 31
‘The only thing that I have control over is what I do now, and what I do in the future.’
When asked if he ever wished he had come out at an earlier age, he added: ‘Consider the circumstances; it was more complicated.’
‘I was questioned when I was in my teens, which is never appropriate. Because of the circumstances, it complicated things.’
In his 2014 interview, the athlete declared to Parkinson: ‘I’ve thought about this for a long time.’
‘I’m not straight. And this is only something that very recently – in the past two weeks – I’ve been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that.’
The mental health advocate was first asked about his sexuality at 16 years old, and said he didn’t know at that stage but ‘was still gay at the end of the day.’
‘Part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay. But I’m telling the world that I am,’ he told Parkinson.
His admission made headlines as it came after years of public denials, including in his 2012 autobiography.
He added: ‘Yes, I lied about it. I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man.’
Speaking out: ‘Part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay. But I’m telling the world that I am,’ Ian told Parkinson in 2014
The swimmer first grabbed world attention when he won the 1998 world 400m freestyle title in Perth, becoming, at 15, the youngest world champion in history.
After coming out in 2014, Ian dated Ryan Channing for four years. However, the pair called it quits in 2019, but remain close friends.
The swimmer is patron of ReachOut, a health organisation that provides support for under 25s with everyday issues and difficult times surrounding their mental health.
He is also appearing on RFBI’s Mental Moments pop up TV show – which is available to the public globally – to raise awareness to mental health in aged care.
Romantic life: After coming out in 2014, Ian dated Ryan Channing (left) for four years. However, the pair called it quits in 2019, but remain close friends