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Olympic gymnast Tomás González came out as gay and vaulted to new heights

Tomas Gonzalez

This profile is part of Queerty’s 2023 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year.

Name: Tomás González, 37

Bio: González is a Chilean gymnast specializing in vault and floor exercises, who was the first in his country to qualify for the Summer Olympic Games. He has competed in the last three consecutive Summer Games.

Throughout his career, the artistic gymnast has won nine medals at World Cup events, six medals at the Pan American Games, and seven medals at the South American Games.

In 2011, he was ranked no.1 in the world in floor and vault exercises for the first time.

González qualified for his first Olympics at the 2012 London Games, where he placed 4th in the vault and floor finals. Four years later, he finished seventh in the vault at the 2016 Rio Games. He also participated at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

Coming out: In July 2023, González publicly came out for the first time while promoting his new autobiography, Champion: Lessons, triumphs and falls of an Olympic gymnast.

In the midst of an interview, the world-class athlete took the huge leap and shared his truth.

“I suppose it is no longer an issue, but yes, I am gay,” he told the Chilean outlet La Tercera. “And if it is about making it public, I prefer to do it in this book.”

Growing up in a conservative family, Gonzalez said he didn’t fully accept himself until he was around 24 years old.

“I cried a lot those days,” he shared. “I was in the process of coming to terms with being homosexual and I felt like a part of me was dying too.” 

After coming out to his inner circle in 2010, he was pleasantly surprised by their reaction and by the end of the year celebrated his birthday with his parents and his first boyfriend.

Still, he felt held back by the heteronormative culture that permeates society and the sports world.

“My circle did not change, but one always has to be aware that there are people with obstacles,” he added. “And then one wonders why? Machismo and homophobia are problems that are in society and in gymnastics too.”

But it’s exactly because of the brave actions of people like González that attitudes and conditions are slowly getting better for LGBTQ+ athletes around the world. Yet, he never planned on becoming a gay role model.

“I try to contribute to society from sport … but actively participating in politics does not interest me,” he noted. “Obviously, I’m always going to be supporting people. As long as there are equal rights for all, I will support it. But going public with that goal was never my goal.”

Since making headlines this summer for coming out, González has seen his celebrity expand beyond gymnastics and has been further embraced by audiences in Chile.

He recently appeared as a contestant on the dance competition reality TV series “Aquí Se Baila” (“Here You Dance”) and is currently showing off his athleticism as part of the circus extravaganza “Circo Sportas.”

In his personal life, the handsome athlete has been in a relationship with his boyfriend for six years, and, since Chile legalized gay marriage last year, hopes to tie the knot and start a family in the near future.

“We all work, we pay taxes, we have a role in society. So, I want to have the same rights as any citizen,” he said. “Beyond any sexual orientation, we all have to have the same rights.”

Now on the precipice of retiring, González hopes his story can be help embolden others to push beyond their own perceived limitations.

“This has been an amazing process and very healing in so many ways,” he wrote on social media. “I decided to share my sporting and personal experiences, some that I’ve never shared on media, in order to inspire everyone who has the desire to be better in both areas.”

Whether on or off the mat, González has become a force in the LGBTQ+ community and we can’t wait to see where he lands next.

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