A professional surfer in China has come out publicly as gay, believed to be the first Chinese athlete who has come out as LGBT.

The surfer, Xu Jingsen, or ASam in an Anglicized translation, will attend the August Gay Games in Paris.

In a post on China’s popular messaging service Weibo, read by more than 360,000 people, ASam explained his decision (as translated by the Federation of Gay Games and Bing):

“Hello everyone!

I am ASam. I will attend the global Gay Games in Paris, France, in August this year and serve as an ambassador.

Life is human, the ultimate measure of our inner courage.

Yes, I am gay.

We have the right to choose love and to be loved. Sex, age and skin color are not shackles.

We are all the same, living in the sun.

Today, I am brave to be my most true self, and I see it as the greatest gift I have ever given.

If my bravery brings comfort to those who feel lonely, and encourages them to support equality, then everything I do will be more meaningful.

Thanks everyone

The post was accompanied by ASam surfing against a rainbow backdrop:

While homosexuality is legal in China, LGBT people still face societal and legal pressure. We can’t find another example of a Chinese athlete who has come out as LGBT. We also don’t know how extensive ASam’s athletic background is, though the World Surf database lists a Xu Jingsen who competed professionally in 2013.

Surfing is not a sport at the Gay Games, but a photo from the Federation of Gay Games indicated ASam will be swimming and playing basketball. Regardless, he is taking a brave step forward for LGBT athletes from China.

The 2022 Gay Games will be held in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.