out of the trap

“You are loved”: Pro golfer Tadd Fujikawa, taking a 5-iron to closet doors

This profile is part of Queerty’s Out For Good series, recognizing those who came out to make a difference. The series will run throughout October in honor of National Coming Out Day on October 11.

Name: Tadd Fujikawa, 27

Bio: At his premature birth, Fujikawa weighed one pound. Doctors told his Hawaiian parents he probably wouldn’t live–or at best would live with severe brain damage. Well, let’s just say the doctors were wrong, much to the relief of the Fujikawa’s. Tadd something of a miracle baby, growing up to become one of the world’s most successful athletes and a man of great courage. He began his professional golf career at age 16. One year later, he became the youngest player to ever win the Mid-Pacific Open Tournament. He’s also won the prestigious Sony Open in Hawaii not once but twice.

Coming out: Fujikawa showed just how far he has come when upended the conservative world of pro golf in September 2018 by coming out in an emotional post on Instagram. Though he’d never concealed his orientation from close friends, family and professional colleagues, Fujikawa felt he needed to be clear with the public and with the golf fans who watch his every swing.

“I’ve been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality,” he said in his post. “I thought that I didn’t need to come out because it doesn’t matter if anyone knows.”

Making a Difference: Fujikawa also revealed the reason behind the timing of his announcement–September 12, World Suicide Prevention Day. “I’ve struggled with my mental health for many years because of [the closet] and it put me in a really bad place,” he explained. “Now I’m standing up for myself and the rest of the LGBTQ community in hopes of being an inspiration and making a difference in someone’s life.”

Related: Tadd Fujikawa just became the first openly gay male pro golfer

Fujikawa is the first ever pro golfer to come out of the closet while still qualifying for the PGA Tour. Doing so risked the loss of potentially lucrative endorsement deals and his standing with golf fans, who tend to be older and more conservative than those of other sports. Until recently, golf was the purview of older white straight men who could afford the fees of country clubs and private golf course. Only recently, have the clubs begun to allow women in their ranks, let alone LGBTQ. Tiger Woods inspired a generation of young people of color like Fukikawa to take up the game, but the top 100 list is still dominated by white men.

“I just want to spread love and acceptance to others who are in a similar situation. If anyone out there is struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU ARE ENOUGH…AS IS, EXACTLY AS YOU ARE! So I dare you…spread love. Let’s do our part to make this world a better place.”

Words of Wisdom, as told the Queerty:

I saw coming out as a force for change because I’ve seen and experienced it first hand. Others’ stories gave me hope during my lowest times that things will be okay, and I will be okay. It pushed me to want to do the same for the community. Since then, I’ve had a vision to make a difference. I feel that my passion and purpose is to empower people to be their best and truest selves. That’s the reason for me coming out. I wan to change lives and be an inspiration for the people who are going through a similar situation. I want them to know that they’re not alone. They are loved and they are enough, exactly as they are.

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*PLEASE READ* Coincidentally, today is world suicide prevention day. However, I was going to share this regardless. So…I'm gay. Many of you may have already known that.? I don't expect everyone to understand or accept me. But please be gracious enough to not push your beliefs on me or anyone in the LGBTQ community. My hope is this post will inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another. I've been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality. I thought that I didn't need to come out because it doesn't matter if anyone knows. But I remember how much other's stories have helped me in my darkest times to have hope. I spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was. I was always afraid of what others would think/say. I've struggled with my mental health for many years because of that and it put me in a really bad place. Now I'm standing up for myself and the rest of the LGBTQ community in hopes of being an inspiration and making a difference in someone's life. Although it's a lot more accepted in our society today, we still see children, teens, and adults being ridiculed and discriminated against for being the way we are. Some have even taken their lives because of it. As long as those things are still happening, I will continue to do my best to bring more awareness to this issue and to fight for equality. Whether the LGBTQ is what you support or not, we must liberate and encourage each other to be our best selves, whatever that may be. It's the only way we can make this world a better place for future generations. I don't want this to be focused on me. I just want to spread love and acceptance to others who are in a similar situation. If anyone out there is struggling, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU ARE ENOUGH…AS IS, EXACTLY AS YOU ARE!?? I can't wait for the day we all can live without feeling like we're different and excluded. A time where we don't have to come out, we can love the way we want to love and not be ashamed. We are all human and equal after all. So I dare you…spread love. Let's do our part to make this world a better place.??????????

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