Tomás González

Another Olympian just joined Team LGBTQ+.

Chilean gymnast Tomás González, who’s competed in the last three Summer Games, publicly came out as gay in his recently released autobiography. “I guess it’s not a topic anymore, but yes, I’m gay,” he said in an interview with the Spanish website El Desconcierto. “If it’s about making it public, I prefer to do it in this book.”

González made his debut at the 2012 London Olympics, placing fourth in the floor exercise and horse vault. The artistic gymnast finished seventh in the hose vault at the Rio Games in 2016.

The 36-year-old says he realized he was gay in his mid-20s. But it took him time to come to terms with his sexuality.

“I cried a lot those days,” he said. “I was in the process of coming to terms with myself as a homosexual and I felt that a part of me was dying, too.”

Like many LGBTQ+ athletes, González says he couldn’t take staying closeted any longer. The weight of the secret was weighing on him, and impacting his quality of life.

“After London [2012 Olympic Games], I said, ‘I can’t take it anymore, it’s doing me harm, I’ve gotten this far with him, but I’m not enjoying gymnastics or my accomplishments,” he writes in his book.

The groundbreaking athlete–González was the first Chilean artistic gymnast to medal at a World Cup event and qualify for the Summer Olympics–is internationally renowned. He’s won nine medals, including four gold, at World Cup events and taken home six medals at the Pan American Games (a continental multi-sport event involving countries in the Americas).

In addition, he’s won seven medals at the South American Games and participated in eight World Championships.

In 2011, González ranked No. 1 in the world in floor and vault for the first time.

Despite his success on the mat, he still felt inadequate. He says he’s glad to see more out LGBTQ+ role models in sports today, and wants to add himself to the list.

“In the end, one grows up in a normal hetero society that still conditions you,” he said. “Today I am glad that things are normalizing. In this sense, one still sees the new generations as much more determined, perhaps they do not have this burden of religions that have greatly influenced society.”

There were at least 186 out athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Games, but only one gymnast: Caitlin Rooskrantz of South Africa.

Australian gymnast Heath Thorpe, who publicly came out as gay when he was 18, has spoken at length about the dearth of out male gymnasts. He attributes the lack of representation, or at least some of it, to the environment around the sport. Since male gymnasts are commonly emasculated, he says the sport overcompensates in the other direction.

“Artistry in the eyes of men’s gymnastics equals femininity and for some reason we see that as a bad thing,” he told Inside Gymnastics last year.

González, for his part, says outdated attitudes about gender pervade society and gymnastics.

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

But attitudes change through representation. González continues to expand his celebrity in Chile, where he was a participant this year on the reality show, “Aquí Se Baila” (“Here You Dance”).

While he acknowledges his trepidation about being out–and uneasiness about weighing into politics–he knows he has to live as his true self.

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

Congratulations to González on living his truth. We look forward to seeing what he does with his platform from here on out.

In the meantime, scroll down for more pics of our latest gay Olympic star…

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