Irish Olympian Peter Caruth publicly came out as gay recently. There’s no need to be alarmed.
The renowned field hockey player, who’s competed for Ireland 142 times, is the first international hockey player to publicly come out. He’s the second Irish Olympian to come out since taekwondo’s Jack Woolley, who said he was bisexual a couple of years before the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Aside from making history, Caruth’s announcement is noteworthy due to its intimate and personalized nature. He said he was gay on Instagram, and began with some good-natured humor.
“I came out as GAY shortly before the Christmas break! I know, the shock, the horror but it’s ok everyone. Nobody needs to freak out,” he writes.
That is one confident way to come out, and a gratifying sign of the times in which we live. It is discouraging, and frankly frightening, to see some international rollback of LGBTQ rights and the flurry of anti-trans legislation in the U.S.
But sports culture keeps becoming more inclusive, and Caruth’s note embodies that friendly climate. Yes, he’s gay, but his career will be fine. In fact, it may even get better. Numerous athletes have told Outsports that coming out lifted an incredible weight off their shoulders.
They discovered they could play more freely than ever.
Growing up in east Belfast, Caruth said his teammates were “sporty” and “masculine,” which made him fear publicizing his sexuality. The repression deeply impacted his mental health. Caruth was diagnosed with OCD as an adult.
“Some days, it would take me four or five hours to go to bed, get two hours sleep even during the Olympics,” he said.
Caruth’s anxiety was so severe, he wanted to back out of the 2016 Rio Olympics 10 days before they happened, according to the Irish Examiner.
When reading Caruth’s coming out note, his relief is palpable. He writes that saying he was gay was the “hardest thing” he’s ever done, but now that he’s out, he hopes to serve as an inspiration to other closeted LGBTQ people.
“I came out to my best friend and all it took was the right question at the right time. It is OK if you are gay,” he writes.
That is exactly right.