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This Olympic diver doesn’t identify as ‘gay’ or ‘straight,’ but ‘human’

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Timo Barthel has come to define himself as ‘human’ before anything else, looking to embrace all people.

German diver Timo Barthel will compete in the 10-meter platform.
German diver Timo Barthel will compete in the 10-meter platform.
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Tim Barthel is one of our favorite “humans” of the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

When a reader alerted us to the Instagram bio of German diver Barthel, which contained a self-description as “athlete, human, diver” bracketed by rainbows and #LGBTQ on some posts, we thought we’d have another athlete to add to our list of out Olympians.

Not so fast. We discovered Barthel doesn’t much like labels.

In doing our due diligence (the official Olympics website lists a female German diver as Barthel’s partner), we decided to write the diver and asked how he identifies. It resulted in an exchange of messages that shows the fluidity and personal nature of sexual and human identity.

“Hey, I am not given a name,” Barthel, 25, wrote us. “Human is human. It’s doesn’t matter which side you attracted to and It doesn’t matter which skin color you have. Human is human. All of our blood is red.”

That’s hard to argue with, so we asked if we could add him to the list since LGBTQ+ encompasses a lot of identities.

“I don’t want to call it or give a name. Gay sounds too hard,” he replied. “I support you, if you want. But I am not homosexual.”

We reached a happy compromise with the next exchange.

We asked: Would you be comfortable with us saying, “Timo Barthel isn’t gay or straight or any other label. He’s human and supports everyone.”

His reply: “Yes this is good (with a praying hands emoji).”

The background for our inquiry was this message Barthel posted on Instagram last week, with him wearing a Pride shirt, that translates to: “Sometimes nothing changes in a year and everything changes in one day. Anyone who only thinks in black and white will never see a rainbow ! ️‍ Human is human.”

Timo Barthel
Timo Barthel

It’s clear Barthel has been thinking about this issue for a while, since last August he posted a photo of himself in a Speedo with this caption:

“What a sick world If i go to the beach as a diver (speedo) they insult me as a fagot and they are laughing. If I go like everybody with a „normal“ short, everything is fine. Fuck off envious people Be yourself and don’t care what other people think ❤️ We are all humans. White, black, orange, thick, thin, gay ......... !!! I accept you ❤️.”

Timo Barthel
Timo Barthel

Since we’re all objectively human, we’re not adding Barthel to our LGBTQ list since under that criteria we’d have 11,000 entries. But we are rooting him on in the men’s 10-meter platform diving.