Olympic gymnast Tomás González has come out as gay in his autobiography, revealing that coming to terms with his sexuality was “not an easy process”.
In Champion: Lessons, Triumphs and Falls of an Olympic Gymnast, he reveals the difficulties of coming out as gay in a conservative family and his time as a world-ranking athlete.
“I guess it’s not a topic any more, but yes, I’m gay,” González said in an interview with Spanish website El Desconcierto.
“If it’s about making it public, I prefer to do it in this book.”
The 37-year-old Chilean, who made his Olympic debut at the 2012 games in London, said he realised he was gay in his mid-twenties, but it took him longer to come to terms with his sexuality.
“I cried a lot those days,” he said. “I was in the process of coming to terms with myself as a homosexual and I felt that a part of me was dying, too.”
González said that coming out as gay was difficult in a “heteronormative society”, and that “machismo and homophobia” exist in the world of gymnastics.
“Assuming myself was not an easy process,” he told El Desconcierto. “In the end, one grows up in a heteronormative society that still conditions you. Today, I am glad that things are normalising.
“In this sense, one sees the new generations as much more determined, perhaps they do not have this burden of religion that has greatly influenced society.”
He added that “participating in politics does not interest me”, but that he would continue to support LGBTQ+ rights.
“As long as there are equal rights for all, I will support it,” he said.
González has been in a relationship for six years and eventually wants to get married and have kids.
“We all work, pay taxes, have a role in society,” he said. “So, I want to have the same rights as any citizen. Regardless of any sexual orientation, we all have to have the same rights,” Outsports quoted him as saying.
González joins several Olympic athletes who have publicly come out as LGBTQ+ in recent years, including Great Britain’s double gold medallist Kelly Holmes, who revealed her sexuality last year, at the age of 52.
“I feel free, I’m happy for the first time in my life,” the 800m and 1,500m runner said in an interview in January.
Organisers for the 2024 Paris Olympics have vowed that it will be the “most inclusive games yet”, focusing on disability rights, LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality.
But while Tokyo 2020 made history with the Olympics’ first out transgender and non-binary competitors, the International Olympic Committee announced in 2021 that it would drop its trans athlete policy, leaving sports governing bodies to decide their own regulations on trans participation.
Several of those bodies, including the International Swimming Federation, have since created policies effectively banning trans participation.