Nico Young came out as gay after struggling for years. | Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nico Young, an accomplished cross-country and track and field athlete at Northern Arizona University, has come out publicly as gay.

Young came out in a post on Instagram:

This may come as a shock to some of you, but this is something I have always known and have finally decided to share with the world. I like guys, not girls.

Anyone who tells you that being gay is a choice is wrong. I am living proof that it is not a choice, it is something I have always known and been aware of, but have kept silent out of fear of rejection.

I have struggled to accept myself, but I am becoming more proud and happy with who I am. I have realized that the only reason I never liked this part of who I am was because of what society has told me, not because of how I actually feel.

This is a quality of myself as well as so many other people that should be accepted and celebrated just the same as a straight person’s identity is.

I want and hope to be a representative and advocate for others like me. I want anyone who is struggling with who they are to know that you are never alone, and that the people who truly matter to you will always be there to love and support you.

If people choose to walk out of your life because of who you are, then they never deserved to be in your life in the first place.

My name is Nico Young and I’m proud to be gay!

Young, who will be a junior, runs for Northern Arizona’s cross-country and track and field teams, and was a star runner at high school in Southern California. He was the 2019-20 National Gatorade Player of the Year in cross-country and 2019-20 track and field National Gatorade Player of the Year in addition to being a California state champion. At NAU, he placed third this spring in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA track and field championship, among other accomplishments.

Nico Young talks with his Northern Arizona head coach Michael Smith after the 5,000 meters during the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in March.

Young’s coming out is wonderful thing and we hopes he thrives in this upcoming running season.

You can follow Nico Young on Instagram.