For Alex Di Giorgio, participating in this season of Italy’s “Dancing with the Stars” wasn’t about an opportunity for the Olympian build his brand or increase his name recognition.

It was about sharing the message of LGBTQ inclusion, intertwined with his personal story.

Di Giorgio and his partner, Moreno Porcu, made history as the first ever out gay pairing in the show’s history. During a recent semifinal round, contestants were tasked with sharing a personal story through music or dance.

Before the presentation, Di Giorgio, 32, spoke about the fear he experienced as a young swimmer, and how his ex-boyfriend outed him with a photograph.

“The entertainment environment is different from sports. Here it is more accepted,” said Di Giorgio, via The Nation View. “One day I pick up the phone and find 50 messages from my friends. There were pictures of me cuddling with another guy. I felt sinking, betrayed. I was unmasked by the person I loved. It put me in the position of having to justify myself as if I had lied to everyone around me.”

Di Giorgio’s performance wowed the judges: he won first place at the end of the second semifinal.

But more importantly, Di Giorgio’s message resonated. Throughout the season, he was candid about the discrimination he felt in the swimming world.

“In the sporting environment it was not accepted,” he said, via Breaking Latest. “Swimming has given me a very lonely setting.”

Di Giorgio competed for Italy as a freestyle specialist at the 2012 London Games and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. He’s won 35 medals at the Italian championships.

He says the support he’s received from “Dancing the Stars” is sweeter than any triumph in the pool.

“I woke up flooded with Love and affection,” he wrote in a recent Instagram post. “It wasn’t easy for me to open the drawer of suffering and tell it through dance. Thanks to @morenoporcu who is an amazing travel companion and who helped me do all this.”

There is great power in honesty, both personally and artistically.

Author’s note: Some portions of this story were translated from Italian. If we missed anything, please reach out.