Robert Páez is a professional diver from Venezuela. He represented his country in both the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
In a powerful new op-ed published by Outsports, the 23-year-old coming out publicly for the very first time.
“Growing up in Venezuela, I knew from a very young age that I was different, despite not knowing what exactly that meant,” Páez writes.
I was born gay. As I got older I became more aware of it, and as I grew–like with so many others–it became my great dilemma. It was a source of worry that I was interested in things like dancing and fashion, things that in my culture were for women and gays. I shied away from doing many things. I was at times ashamed to go out into society, to face who I really was.
Today, Páez says he’s no longer ashamed of who he is. He admits that fear kept him closeted for many years. But he’s no longer going to surrender to that fear.
“In sharing my story, I hope to help make homosexuality as common of a word as heterosexuality,” he writes. “We have to understand that we are all equal.”
“Accepting ourselves and respecting ourselves are big first steps. Life is too beautiful to be hidden in a closet.”
Scroll down for pics from Páez’s Instagram page and read his full op-ed over at Outsports…