Luke Strong, a five-time British champion and a world and European medalist in trampoline gymnastics, has come out as bisexual in an interview with the BBC.
“I’ve never hidden anything and I’m really open about the fact that I’m attracted to both sexes, male and female, but I’ve never been in a relationship with either of them so I don’t know,” Strong, 27, told the BBC on an episode of its LGBT Sport Podcast.
Strong said that while he has been open about his sexuality for years, he never had a major coming out and his BBC interview was the first time he discussed it publicly. He recalled a time a few years ago when a coach asked him about his sexuality. “I remember just crying and I didn’t really know why,” he said. “That was the first person I really expressed my sexuality to.”
From a young age, when he fell in love with trampoline, he became aware of the stereotypes it created for some people.
“I think like most people in the LGBTQ community, growing up is always a little bit difficult,” Strong said. “Especially wearing a leotard, doing gymnastics, doing the splits — you get the typical ‘you’re a fairy’ and the gay jokes.
“I had that growing up in school and then especially in high school it got a lot worse. There was a period of time in Year 8 and 9 where the bullying was bad. I wouldn’t really talk about trampolining because I was embarrassed.”
Things changed when people started noticed he was talented, but he was also aware that the gay jokes and bullying made people think that being gay was wrong. Strong says he still gets some abuse from internet trolls.
“It’s always been fine within the sport, people are pretty understanding,” he said. “But on social media you get your trolls every now and again, with homophobic abuse on comments or personal messages sometimes.
“But I honestly don’t even think about that ever. It doesn’t bother me: I feel sorry for people like that who are close-minded and still think its offensive to be called gay — because it’s not.”
Strong, who has had several bad injuries in the past and is now recovering from an ankle injury, is itching to get back to competition. He just missed making the British Olympic team in 2012 and was a reserve on the 2016 team.
You can listen to the whole interview here (the discussion of his coming out starts at the 18:15 mark).
You can follow Luke Strong on Twitter.