Scottish badminton star Kirsty Gilmour has competed in two straight Olympic Games and four Commonwealth Games.
And she says she’s playing more freely since publicly coming out.
Gilmour, who’s badminton’s highest-ranked out gay player at No. 17 in the world, spoke about her coming out story recently with France 24. In the interview, Gilmour said she was “sick of giving energy” to covering up her sexuality.
While she doesn’t like to use the word “trailblazer,” she hopes she can be an example for other players grappling with their own identities. Badminton is most popular in Asia, where many countries still observe conservative social traditions.
“I think Asian countries are making huge strides, with Taiwan becoming one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage,” she said. “But I think there’s a lot of countries at the top of badminton that have quite strong religious views.”
Gilmour, 28, almost medaled during this year’s Commonwealth Games, where she represented Scotland. She almost missed the event due to a severe case of arthritis in her back, but was able to attend the opening ceremony.
Gilmour participated last summer in the Tokyo Games.
LGBTQ athletes talk almost uniformly about the relief they feel when coming out, both on and off the field or playing surface. As Gilmour mentions, there’s an incredible amount of mental stress that comes along with keeping secrets.
“It’s nice that we live in a world where it’s such a non-point, but there’s still a long way to go,” she said.
At 28, she has a long athletic career ahead of her. It’s even sweeter that now she can compete as her true self.