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Mark Tewksbury ‘called bullshit’ on people saying he didn’t need to come out

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Mark Tewksbury is an Olympic champion and has been a champion for human rights since he came out in 1998.

Canadian Olympic Team will be announcing several key LGBTQ-related initiatives
Mark Tewksbury was one of the first Olympic gold medalists to come out publicly as gay, and he’s pushed for LGBTQ inclusion in sports ever since.
Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Mark Tewksbury was one of the first Olympic gold medalists to come out publicly as gay. The swim champion from Canada did so in 1998.

On the latest episode of the Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast, Tewksbury talks about what led him to finally pull the trigger and share his truth publicly all those years ago. It involves bouncing on stage to Abba, blonde hair and an important person in the audience.

After he came out publicly, he said various people across sports asked him why he had to talk about this. “We don’t care,” they told him. “This isn’t an issue.” So why was he making such a big deal?

His response could not have been more perfect or appropriate.

“I called bullshit,” he remembers. “You don’t get that easy of a pass. You don’t get to say this is not an issue.”

We at Outsports so often get the “why are you making this a big deal” tweets, emails and comments. We’ve been where Tewksbury was, over and over. “I call bullshit” — the perfect response.

Tewksbury also sounds off on the Olympics inclusion of egregious human-rights violators like Iran, whose government kills LGBTQ citizens and athletes who dare speak their minds.

“For me,” Tewksbury says, “that would have happened a long time ago.”

You can listen to the conversation with Olympic swim gold medalist Mark Tewksbury on the Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast on Megaphone, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts and many more platforms. Just search for Outsports wherever you get your podcast.

And be sure to follow Five Rings To Rule Them All on Twitter.

You can follow Mark Tewksbury on Instagram and on Twitter.