Alex Renkert, a world medal winning trampoline and tumbling gymnast from the U.S. who is gay, is taking this year off from competing and switching his focus to wedding planning with his fiance.
Renkert and Blake Carter, an Ohio public defender, were engaged last October after dating for five years, and the proposal caught Renkert off guard, he told USA Gymnastics.
“It was completely unexpected,” Renkert said. “We were walking around the park before we were going to go to our anniversary dinner. He stopped me and got down on one knee [with] a Ring Pop.”
“We went and got sized for rings, had an amazing engagement/anniversary dinner and managed to have the weekend to ourselves with no other plans, it was perfect,” Renkert posted on Instagram when announcing the engagement.
Renkert has won eight medals at trampoline and tumbling world championships and is the reigning silver medalist in the World Games double mini. He says he is debating whether to compete again but stays involved with USA Gymnastics as vice chair of the organization’s Athletes’ Council, where he advocate for the rights of gymnasts.
A big part of his advocacy is helping other LGBTQ gymnasts thrive. As told by USA Gymnastics:
Renkert struggled to live openly as a member of the LGBTQ+ community during his teenage years but received encouragement and support from athletes he looked up to who were visible members of the community. He wants today’s gymnasts to know they can come to him to talk through whatever challenges they may be facing.
“I didn’t come out until I was 19 years old,” Renkert said. “Obviously, there were many people that knew quietly before that, but I was just really scared all the time about it. Everyone has their own journey. Whether it’s being gay or any other difficulties they’re facing, [it can be] hard to speak openly about them. It’s important for me to be out and proud so that people know they can feel comfort in discussing any kind of matters with me.”
In the T&T [trampoline and tumbling] world, he has relied on teammates and friends, and hopes others can do the same with him.
“It’s really comforting having people in your corner that share similar experiences,” said Renkert. “There’s so much stress that’s involved with competing both domestically and internationally, and having [others] also LGBTQIA — that we can really lean on each other — has been important in my career.”