Australian gold medal swimming legend Ian Thorpe has stated in his autobiography that he is not gay and resents anyone thinking he is lying about his sexual orientation. The swimmer also wrote about his long bouts of depression, drinking and suicidal thoughts and why he is not in a relationship.
"For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight," Thorpe writes in "This Is Me," released last week. People have long speculated that Thorpe is gay and he admitted this summer that because of his interests, "I tick all the boxes."
ABC network in Australia conducted a 10-minute interview with Thorpe about the book and this is how he answered questions about his sexuality:
"The thing that I find hurtful about it is that people are questioning my integrity and what I say. That's the only part I find hurtful, that this is something I would be embarrassed about and that I would hide. ... I try to explain it but I don't know either, but I think it's because I don't fit into the typical stereotype of what a straight athlete would be in the past.
The performances in the pool we can relate to them in sport, but I behave differently. I like different things. For me, I'm a nerd. I'm just someone who happened to be good at sport as well. I educated myself by reading books on planes, traveling around the world. I like beautiful things in the world, I like the aesthetics of those things. ...
I don't want to offend anyone, whether they're people that are friends that are gay or whatever else. I don't want to offend them by getting angry about it, by getting frustrated about it. The only part that gets me frustrated is that people think I'm lying."
In an interview with the BBC's Stephen Sackur for HARDtalk, Thorpe talked about his depression and drinking:
"There was a period where I was just drinking too much because I was just trying to forget. I'd wake up the next day, I'd wake up feeling worse. I was more depressed. I had a hangover. I'd go train, I'd do it all again and I haven't addressed what the issue is. I'm fortunate in that I realized this drinking thing is not helping, it's just making you worse. And I had to delve deeper into what is depression for me and getting my head around that because I didn't understand it."
Thorpe told ABC that being introverted and having a different personality do not make him suitable for a relationship. "I try to avoid letting people into this world they might not be prepared for," he said, adding, "if I'm in a relationship, it's really on the down-low for the first part of it to see if this is going to work out."
"Down-low"? Interesting choice of words. Suicidal thoughts, depression and excessive drinking are often the hallmarks of someone struggling with their identity. Thorpe just turned 30, got rave reviews for his work as an 2012 Olympic swimming analyst for the BBC and wants to compete in the 2016 Olympics. Straight, gay, bi or questioning, I only hope that Thorpe is at peace with himself and has found a degree of happiness.