“You’re a fag. You’re a queen. You’re undeserving of love. You’re never going to amount to anything.”
So went the internal monologue of Olympic swimming hopeful Tom Luchsinger as he went about his busy training and academic schedules.
And even when he kept his mind occupied, that voice would inevitably creep back in: “FAGGOT! QUEER!”
An accomplished athlete, Tom had an impressive calling card even though he was barely past 20 years old. 12 ACC Medals, 10 All-American Certificates, three All-American Trophies, and ACC Men’s Swimmer of the Year. And still, that voice chimed in.
“You are still a queen. You are still a fairy!”
But when he won the 200m butterfly national title in 2013, something changed. He’d graduated to “Olympic hopeful” status, and with that came added attention and responsibility. Fans and the media paid closer attention to him, and he was terrified his secret would somehow slip out.
Still, he wondered, “Why would anyone want to take a picture of me? Why would anyone want to film me? I’m nothing but an unaccomplished, closeted queer.”
And after another year of living this double life, something finally clicked.
“For my own personal health, I needed to come out. I needed to accept myself and stop hating myself,” he wrote recently on Outsports.
And so in August 2014, he finally started to reach out for help. First he talked with another gay swimmer who’d come out, then progressed to telling his brother, the first in his family to meet the real Tom. “Twenty minutes after I told him, we were making jokes about it. Nothing changed.”
Next he told his best friend Kate, who responded, “Oh my gosh! Why didn’t you tell me sooner?! I’m so happy for you!”
Then he finally mustered up the strength to tell his parents, and after he broke the news, they asked him, “Are you the same man we raised for the past 23 years?”
“Yes,” he replied, feeling like he’d let them down.
“Then, who cares?” the asked back.
And life on the other side continues to be full of love and support.
“My friendships have gotten stronger because of my self acceptance. My smile is a lot more genuine and surfaces much more frequently. I laugh a lot more. My body has time to recover from a workout because I’m actually an easy-going person. I have found qualities-both physical and emotional-that I like about myself – though that’s still a work in progress. My number of good days far out number my bad days.”
Congrats, Tom. We wish you all the best on the road to Rio.
Best of luck Tom. Thanks for your courage. The world needs more like you.
Incredible! Good luck in Rio!
GO GUY..the BEST
For some of us it takes a great deal of courage to come out —
& congrats to Tom for mustering that courage and his life is already
better and certainly will just continue to grow.
And ok, no pressure here, we just expect you to win a few gold medals at the
Rio 2016 Olympics. But, no pressure (just win some gold). We’ll be watching for
PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID
The Blessed Acronym welcomes you
My good is good yes ! More is eventt is Olympic the city país brazil rj the janeiry is datte new 2016 ! The is Cup the World ILGBT Olympic Welcome and Welcome the sede city brazil Rj the Janeiry Rj .Event is because is energic negative the tex writte mensagens is mem darlin dear´s is yes .
Dear Arconyyon– I couldn’t agree with you more.
I had the pleasure of being taught chemistry in high school by Tom’s mother, that was over 10 years ago now and I still look back and think what an amazing women she was. I spent many of my lunch period off in her classroom talking with her. We would talk about life and she would give me advice on how to be the best person I could be. I remember she told me to always follow my heart, no matter what. I always loved music, and she would encourage me to follow that, knowing that I had no interest in the chemistry experiments we would do in class. I will always be greatful to have had a teacher like Ms. Luchsinger.
It no surprise to me that her children show amazing courage and have become an inspiration to me.
Thank you, Ms. L. and thank you Tom! (Although I’m pretty sure you will never see this, thank you nevertheless)
Congratulations on all of your success to date. You have a fan for life in me!
@throwslikeagirl: Can you translate for me?
The step you have taken today will pave the road for others to travel more easily and effortlessly. Congratulations! And thank you.
Maybe now they will post articles about him every 15 mins and not that other Tom.
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