Six elite-level French athletes have come out as LGBTQ for Pride month, including three who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and a swimmer who won a gold medal and two silvers on relay teams in 2012 and 2016.
The six are fencer Astrid Guyart, judoka Amandine Buchard, basketball player Céline Dumerc, swimmer Jérémy Stravius, skater Kevin Aymoz and rugby player Jérémy Clamy-Edroux. Guyart, Buchard and Dumerc have all qualified for the Tokyo Games, with Buchard being one of the favorites in her judo weight class.
The athletes came out in the documentary, “We Need to Talk,” broadcast on the Canal+ channel. According to media reports, the documentary took a year to make and the athletes agreed to not talk about the film until it was shown.
I have not seen the documentary and don’t speak French, but translated reports on it show the six athletes with the same fears of coming out as LGBTQ athletes everywhere. Skater Aymoz, who is gay, said he had long heard that skating was a “faggot sport” and that knowing he was gay “haunted my days” while he was in the closet.
Stravius, who won a gold and silver medal in 2012 and a silver in 2016 as part of French Olympic swimming relay teams, said he was afraid that if he came out he would be treated differently. “I imagined that some people were going to say that if we were in the locker room together, [Stravius] is in watching me.”
Dumerc, now in a relationship with a woman, told about how she had to pretend she was the “eternal bachelor” on her team while closeted. Guyart the fencer talked about “hearing homophobic jokes for 10 years” and feeling pressured to laugh about it with others.
Clamy-Erdoux, the only male team sport athlete of the six, talked about how he had to “put up barriers so that nothing is misinterpreted.” And how he felt it necessary to go along with pregame motivational phrases with his teammates along the lines of “we’re going to fuck these queers.” Despite those memories, he said he does not think rugby is homophobic but is played by “intelligent and open-minded men.” He said his biggest obstacle was his dad, who he was not out to and was going to have watch the documentary.
Buchard, the judo star, has been out for three years, though she says she has not talked to her mother since she came out. Nonetheless, she urged others in the closet to come out and “live their life.”
“I am good in my life, I am good in my sport, I accept myself,” Buchard says, a sentiment all LGBTQ athletes need to embrace.