"I was brought up by a war generation; they grew up when gay people were put in jail. Being homosexual was so unthinkable that you just wouldn't be gay. I'd no inkling about anything, I just closed down," Obree told the newspaper (the full interview is not online).
Obree came out to his family after he told a therapist he was gay in 2005. He said the revelation, while a shock to his parents, brought them closer. Obree had been married and is now divorced. He has two teenage sons who encouraged him to come out, he told the London Guardian.
He also contemplated suicide:
"I was brought up thinking you'd be better dead than gay. I must have known I was gay and it was so unacceptable," Obree said.
I knew nothing about Obree's sporting career but Cycling News has a nice primer on someone considered an innovator in the sport:
His achievements on the bike have combined to make him one of cycling's most enigmatic figures. The Scotsman claimed the World individual pursuit title in 1993 and 1995 but is best known for his innovative and pioneering attempts at the World hour record.
He claimed the hour record twice, in 1993 and 1994. The first successful, in Norway, saw him best a nine-year-old record held by Italian Francesco Moser using a hand-made bike constructed from spare parts dubbed 'Old Faithful'. That record lasted only a week as Englishman Chris Boardman improved on Obree's effort in Bordeaux, France during a rest day of that year's Tour de France. Obree reclaimed the record in April, 1994.
Boardman, his cycling rival, sent him a Twitter message of support this week after Obree came out. Obree also said that Gareth Thomas' coming out gave him reassurance to do the same.