Ian Thorpe’s Coming Out Receives Highest Praises On Twitter

thorpecommgamesSixteen years after the media first probed him about his perceived sexuality, Australian swimmer and five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe finally came out as a gay man in an interview with Sir Michael Parkinson on Australia’s Channel Ten last night.

“I’m not straight and this is only something that very recently — we’re talking in the past two weeks — I’ve been comfortable telling the closest people around me,” the 31-year-old retired Olympian said near the beginning of the 90-minute interview. “I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man, and I don’t want people to feel the same way I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.”

Thorpe also told Parkinson that the rumor mill inspired by the media’s incessant badgering is what forced him to stay in the closet for so long. “I felt that the lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity,” he told Parkinson, attempting to explain why he openly denied being gay and placed gag orders on interviewers planning to probe. “I didn’t want people to think that I had lied about everything.”

“A part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay,” Thorpe continued. “I am telling not only Australia, I’m telling the world that I am and I hope this makes it easier for others now.”

Speaking on whether he regretted his decision to wait to come out, Thorpe added: “I’m a little bit ashamed that I didn’t come out earlier, that I didn’t have the strength to do it, I didn’t have the courage to do it, to break that lie.”

The reaction to Thorpe’s revelation was swift and welcoming on Twitter, where International celebrities and Olympians immediately began showing their support. Before the program even reached its halfway point, Thorpe’s name was already trending on Twitter:

At the end of the program, Thorpe concluded the interview by telling Parkinson that he’s looking forward to finding love and starting his new life as an openly gay man. “I’d like my own family [someday],” he said.

Watch Thorpe finally answer the million-dollar question below:

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  • JJ24

    High praise? For what coming out after he is retired? For denying and lying for 16 years?

    Franky 13/14 year old gay kids have more balls then him, he does not disservice high praise.

  • Tackle

    I don’t that the media’s incessant badgering is what forced him to stay in the closest for so long. That just doesn’t make much sense. I believe the truth is farther down when he says that “he just didn’t have the strength or courage to do it.” Well now it’s done. And good for him. Hopefully he can have some peace now.

  • DarkZephyr

    @JJ24: So now you think you are better than him because you came out before he did? I denied that I was gay at first too. A LOT of us did and DO because of how nasty people are. Don’t castigate people for coming out later than you would like them to. The point is that he DID. Coming out should always *ONLY BE* when we are ready.

  • odawg

    @JJ24: There is no pleasing people like you. You probably find fault with everything except yourself.

  • NoelG

    @JJ24: Stop being a self-righteous prick. That’s what we have the religious, social conservatives for, hmmkay?

  • Tookietookie123

    @JJ24: I truly don’t understand why gay men themselves look down at each other for coming out a little later than the usual. Not everyone is the same and not everyone has accepting families. You just seem like an insensitive jerk, you should be glad he came out at all. It’s people like you that cause people to hesitate when coming out.

  • David

    It looks in the interview like it was an extremely difficult thing for him to do. His courage to push himself to do it anyway is really touching.

    I was just thinking how little courage it takes for people to bash homosexuals compared to the courage it takes for many to come out.


  • RyanC

    @JJ24: Name a gay 13/14 year old kid who had to come out to the entire world. Everybody has a unique situation, and not everybody has a great support system in place already to not feel uncomfortable with coming out to friends/family.

  • Lefty

    Good for him.

    “My policy is ‘unless you know the full story, don’t judge,’ and you never know the full story.” – John Waters

  • Merv

    I don’t criticize him for not coming out. I criticize him for lying about it, even in his autobiography, which came out only two years ago. Nobody forced him to address the subject in his autobiography. He brought it up himself.

  • Cam

    All the people freaking out because somebody DARED suggest Thorpe was a bit late to the party take a pill.

    He was around 30 years old in 2012 and retired when he wrote a book ADAMANTLY stating that he was not gay, and yet was fine with talking about being an alcoholic, depressed, suicidal etc… This was AFTER other Australian Olympians who still had active careers had come out.

    He didn’t just not come out, he didn’t just lie about it, he said it was an insult. Good for him now, but this guy has been boo-hooing for years….enough already.

  • tardis

    @Merv: Coming out is hard. I know we live in this “be who you are” liberal age, but it still isn’t easy, especially if you grew up in a time when there were anti-gay notions around you. Today’s youngsters have it easy. Not that it’s any easier, but the environment isn’t so hostile unlike years ago. That stuff stays with you.

    However and whenever he decided to come out…good for him.

  • JJ24

    @DarkZephyr: No I do not think i’m better than him, I lied too and when I said 13/14 year olds I was talking about in general not myself. I personally didn’t come out till I was 16. My point was that 13/14 years olds come out everyday facing the possibility of being disowned and yet still have the courage to be honest. This man lied for I believe 16 years continuously denying his sexuality and only comes out now when it has no possibility of affecting his career. Which in my book does not deserve high praise, he deserves a pat on the back for finally being honest but not high praise.

    People like Tom Daley and Darren Young deserve high praise.

    Yes coming out should always be on the person coming outs terms, but that doesn’t mean out right lying for 16 years like this man did.

  • JJ24

    @odawg: Not true, I know I have faults. Yes it’s great he came out but he waited till it couldn’t affect his career which in my book does not deserve high praise.

  • JJ24

    @NoelG: I’m not being a prick, I’m stating my opinion someone who out right lies about his sexuality for years and waits till it can not affect his career does not deserve high praise. He deserves to be congratulate for final being honest but not praised.

    People like Tom Daley and Darren Young deserve high praise.

  • JJ24

    @Tookietookie123: I didn’t have an accepting family but I still came out. I should have better stated my opinion than what I did and for that i’m sorry.

    What I meant was that he deserves a hug/pat on back/congratulations for finally being honest not high praise.

    High praise is reserved for those who take risk in being honest and out during their career.

    People like Tom Daley and Darren Young deserve high praise.

  • JJ24

    @Cam: Thank you, that is what I was referring too. Yes its great he was finally honest but someone who lies and waits till his career is over does not deserve high praise.

  • Dxley

    “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

  • Lvng1tor

    Good for him, Glad he no longer has to hide or fearful someone will out him. That’s a lot of stress to carry. But when an individual in the spotlight comes out just in time to highlight his new Sportscasting gig with the same network he’s on and he was paid a very hefty sum to do says to me….Coming out as a career move.

    Every out Celeb is a good thing. Hopefully it does some good for young kids in sports. That’s all great…But to say it’s something he’s only felt comfortable in the last few weeks to talk about….Luckily it coincided with an interview he was already gettinig paid to do….good thing cause otherwise it wouldn’t have been worth their money…strikes me as “I’m coming out for my career and not to be the altruistic person I hope you think I am in this interview” 10bucks says there’s another book coming.

    Like I said, I wish him no ill will. Some good can come of it regardless of what I feel his true intentions are. It’s his life but I won’t be lining up to shake his hand and watch all the gay press go ga ga over the new hot out athlete and who he’s dating and what advice he has for every fucking thing affecting the gay community.

  • Zodinsbrother

    People who are so deep in to the closet that they hate themselves this much are victims. They are victims of a homophobic culture.

  • Lefty

    At least he’s given you all the chance to be terribly pompous, judgmental and self-righteous.
    Everyone wins!

  • Uppity

    Money has been a big part of it for Ian Thorpe. He made millions off his sponsorship deals and was afraid of losing them if he came out. Now he’s been paid half a million dollars for his “coming out” interview. It’s good that he’s finally out. I doubt whether he’ll acknowledge though how much his decisions were influenced by money.

  • Cam


    No, actually I would say that the pompous one is the multi millionaire who in 2012 not only denies being gay but insinuates that the suggestion he is is an insult.

    How was it for the gay teens in Australia as he is screaming that being labeled gay was an insult?


    There’s a well worn phrase “don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes”. Think on it.
    Thorpe has other problems to deal with, not least the conservative Christianity practiced by his parents. The scenario of someone raised in that environment brings to me memories of a friend from a fundamentalist Christian family, who was dying of AIDS. Up to the moment of his death he was bombarded with calls to repent of his “wickedness” and “path of error”. Going through his things I came across some appalling literature and letters from family members who refused to see the christian life this young man had lived,in stark comparison to theirs.
    Never underestimate the psychological hold religious fanatics can have over others.

  • Tackle

    @JJ24: I don’t think you deserve the anger and hostility that’s being directed at you. Could understand if you said or told him to “[email protected] off and die.” Interestingly, how many of the posters venom and anger at you then what you directed at Ian. And I agree with you that he does not deserve this ” high praise”. And @Cam: is spot on. And many accused you of not knowing Ian’s story. Well it appears that many of us did not know he was being paid, hafl a million, and has a job lined- up at the network that conducted the interview. Which gives even more legitimacy to your claim, and begs the question, how sincere is he really. If money wasn’t on the table, and no job lined-up, would he have still come out: NOW?

  • curan

    Firstly, we are sovereign in how we embrace our sexuality, both privately and publicly. There is no one who has a right to take this authority for another. I do realize that retaliatory outings can sometimes find moral justification, but this is the exception, not the rule. Barring physical harm, you do not have the right to force another to conduct their sexuality in a manner not of their own choosing.

    Furthermore, do not be hasty in judgement and condemnation. It may take time for a person to learn to live with the truth, but the reward for such a journey should not be such harsh and immediate reprimand. Many years are often required to atone for equal years of lies and deception – amends cannot be made overnight. Be patient.

  • DarkZephyr

    I don’t think he is any more of a liar than any of us are when we are in the closet. The closet itself IS a lie, a put on, a feigning of heterosexuality when we aren’t in fact heterosexual. We know we are lying, but we continue to lie to protect our places in the closet until we come out.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Tackle: JJ24 may not deserve the “anger and hostility” he is getting but I don’t think Ian does either. He is no more of a liar than any of us when we are in the closet. And if money is what made it easier for him to come out, so be it. I don’t begrudge him that.

  • vive

    Stories like this attract the worst elements in the comments. Not everyone grew up a millennial in a liberal neighborhood where coming out at 12 is something that is celebrated – yeah right, as if that was comparable to having to come out to billions of people worldwide in front of your conservative family. Apparently your liberated upbringings didn’t provide you the benefit of having human empathy.

    Open your minds a bit to the idea that other people have had to live in different circumstances. Just because someone is a celebrity doesn’t inoculate him from having been mixed up and having had to struggle with identity, all with the additional burden of mental illness. No amount of remuneration now can really make up for the years he has lost. Try to be happy for someone else – yeah, I know that is an alien emotion but come on, just practice.

  • JJ24

    @DarkZephyr: So do you think he should be praised? When two years ago he wrote in his book about how insulting and disgusting it was for people to think/say he is gay. Also i’m not giving him any anger, as I said great for him finally being honest(I wish him all the best) but save praise for people who truly deserve it.

  • jar

    @DarkZephyr: I disagree. There are many different ways of being in the closet. For some, it is more a denial of one’s homosexuality than feigning heterosexuality. Some may feign heterosexuality, while others take an actively hostile approach to homosexuality. Surely, you’ve experienced a closet queen who was outwardly hostile to openly gay peers, no?

    I think there is a significant distinction to be made between someone who denies or hides their sexual orientation but does not deride gays and lesbians (see, eg, Jodie Foster, Ricky Martin) and someone who takes umbrage at the insinuation and goes so far as to call the mere suggestion insulting. The latter expresses an actual hostility towards the very group of which he belongs. I don’t have a problem with acknowledging this distinction and find your attempt to argue there is no distinction to be facile and unconvincing.

    @JJ24: I agree. There is always this tendency to laud those who “see the light,” while ignoring those who have a history of confronting problems. (This is particularly true of the political sphere where any republican who switches parties is immediately embraced by the Dem party and given full-throated support over other more dedicated pols; see Charlie Crist for example).

    This Thorpedo coming out reminds me of the Sharon Kowalski case. Kowalski and her partner Karen Thompson were avid Reagan adherents who rejected the “gay community” until Kowalski was rendered a paraplegic and Thompson had to fight her family and the law to remain her caretaker. Thompson was lauded by the community as a champion for our rights, while ignoring the fact that if this tragedy had not struck her personally she would never have given the support to others that she herself received. I was happy that Thompson saw the light and welcomed her with open arms, but she did not deserve the praise she unquestioningly received.

  • Tackle

    @DarkZephyr: You’ve got to be kidding? Have you seen the tweets Ian has been receiving? All love and support, and underserving praise and adulation. What anger and hostility is Ian receiving?? Certainly not from any posters here. While we wish him all the best, some of us believe the praise is unwarranted and unnecessary. And I don’t begrudge him either if money and a job prospect helped with his decision to come out. But wouldn’t you admit that it is a bit disingenuous to pretend that this a courageous act and helping others to come out when you have half a million being dangled in front of you, and even before that you were already set financially for life, and your Olympic medals and career was 16 yrs ago? And how many LGBTQ people would not come out if given half a mill, and a great job already lined up? @DarkZephyr: Just admit it. On this one you’re wrong.

  • DarkZephyr

    @JJ24: I don’t care if people want to praise him. I really don’t. I don’t see it as something to gripe about.

    @jar: “For some, it is more a denial of one’s homosexuality than feigning heterosexuality.” And they are implying what, that they are bisexual? Asexual? The assumption is always that the person is heterosexual and we *know* that this is the assumption and we do nothing to correct it because its usually what we WANT people to assume when we are in the closet. We are usually no more honest than he was, period. You can pretty up the words and add cream and sugar all you want but its still dishonesty. And its not one that I judge. Being in the closet is usually a necessity of survival.

    You go on to talk about hostility and lump that in with the point I made about lies and dishonesty and calling him a liar. I didn’t make any point about hostility or excuses for it, so while you find my point “facile and unconvincing” I find yours to be slightly disingenuous and unconvincing.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Tackle: “But wouldn’t you admit that it is a bit disingenuous to pretend that this a courageous act”

    I’m not pretending its a courageous act, Tackle. But I do think that coming out of the closet is ALWAYS a GOOD thing. I don’t see the point in snarking about it *shrug*

  • DarkZephyr

    @Tackle: By the way Tackle, I don’t really appreciate how you are trying to paint me as someone who is arguing simply to be right. That is NOT what I am doing. I am sharing how I genuinely feel about this and I simply do not agree with your take and the take of some of the others. Just as you do not agree with mine and shared your disagreement.

    My initial post to JJ24 was because I took issue with these words: “High praise? For what coming out after he is retired? For denying and lying for 16 years? Franky 13/14 year old gay kids have more balls then him, he does not disservice high praise.”

    Nobody was praising him FOR lying and FOR denying for crying out loud, it was the coming out that they were addressing. That comment of JJ24’s was absurd and mean and laced with snark. So I and several others responded to that. Frankly, I wish we all would disagree with one another more politely than what we usually do around here.

  • regina4aregina2037

    As an openly gay Australian male I think it is good that he has shattered that glass closet he has been locked away in.
    Australia is a macho country, the mythical outback stockman, the hard living , drinking and swearing miner in Western Australia or Mount Issa and the atypical butch macho rugby league player all fade when placed against the integrity and prudence of Ian.
    If ecomomic reason governed his decision to not expose his sexuality to the world , good on him. But really in 2014 another openly gay male, who gives a [email protected]#K.

  • DarkZephyr

    @regina4aregina2037: Well, I do think that the more of us LGBT folks there are the more power we have. Life is by no means perfect for us in most countries after all. I hope more and more people come out. I’m not saying this means we should heap “high praise” on him but I can’t help but feel that its nice to have larger numbers.

  • JJ24

    @DarkZephyr: “That comment of JJ24?s was absurd and mean and laced with snark.”

    Looking at it I can see how you interpreted that way, but as i’ve said that was not my intent. My intent was simply to state my belief that high praise should be reserved for those who truly deserve it and that this man does not deserve it. I did not mean for it to sound mean or snarky or to come off as i wasn’t glad he came out(it’s always a good thing to be honest).

    Next time I will be more careful with my wording.

  • DarkZephyr

    @JJ24:Thank you for explaining your intent. I am very grateful for your polite and gracious tone and I appreciate it and respect that quite a lot. I hope your coming week is a very pleasant one. :)


  • Lefty

    If only everyone was as perfect as The Pearl Clutching Queerty Readers Community the gay kids everywhere would never weep again and yay there would be no homophobia throughout the land. Ah men…

  • kernowcraig

    @JJ24: Your rock is just over there, go crawl back under it.

  • babylonandon

    Coming out is always personal but 10 years ago a Thorpe coming out would have been transformative for everyone. Now, the examples of Michael Sam and Matthew Mitcham seem far more inspirational.

  • JJ24

    @DarkZephyr: Thank you I also appreciate your respectful polite responses, and thank you wishing you a good week as well.

  • JJ24

    @kernowcraig: Why? because I have a different opinion? That would make the world a sad boring place. In case you didn’t read any of my other comments I clarified my statement/opinion.

    Yes it is a great that Ian Thrope has come out but after years of lying and stating how disgusting the statement of him being gay is/was he does not deserve high praise, after waiting till his career is over he does not deserve high praise. Congratulations and a pat on the back yes but not high praise, high praise should be reserved for those who truly deserve it and take the big risks.

    My original post was crass and i’m sorry for that.

  • Dawson

    Jesus, can’t people just be glad for him and leave it at that? The judgment from some of the gay community is so wrong. Rather, Congrads Ian. Welcome to the community.

  • Cam


    Interesting that it is the gay community “Judging” him, when just a year and a half ago he was writing that it was an insult to be asked if he was gay.

  • mz.sam

    Now with Thorpie’s never-too-late media announcement, the press is giving this its ‘news legs’…especially when Olympian divers Greg Louganis, Matthew Mitcham and Tom Daley have already broken the Olympic glass ceiling long before.

  • SteveDenver

    I hope he has the happiest most liberated life imaginable. How dare the press ask a 16-y/o about his sexuality. I wish he had the wherewithal to tell them to FCUK OFF. What kind of puerile mind does it take to ask a young athlete such a thing?

    Congratulations Thorpedo!

  • Dawson


    Can people make mistakes or is forgiveness no longer part of the equation? A lot of people say stupid things when they are afraid or confused. You show a lot more class when you give people a second chance. As the good book says “he who is free of sin…”
    We in OUR COMMUNITY should take the high road and be welcoming. I believe the man was confused, afraid and scared. He felt the pressure of a nation on him. He has learned from this that there is nothing wrong with being gay. That is the message that to me is the most important.
    We have ALL said things that we all wished we could take back. Some turn to alcohol as he did. As a social worker I have seen many gay men who lived in denial but it is more important to forgive, support and be there when someone is down. I am very happy for Ian and only wish him the best as I would hope OUR COMMUNITY would do. His ‘coming out’ will do more good than his error in judgment. I would rather look at the positive.

  • Cam


    Actually if you look at what I said, my comment was “Good that he’s out now” But I also pointed out, that treating somebody as a hero when they actually made things more difficult for young gays is also counter productive. They guy isn’t being attacked, what is being attacked is people giving him so many acolades for doing what Matthew Mitchum did years earlier.

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