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Finnish Olympian Swimmer Comes Out As Gay

“It’s a really great feeling that I can finally be myself.”

This is Finnish Olympic swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen, who publicly came out today.

Adam Pretty / Getty Images

He came out to Finnish outlet Yle because he wanted to speak publicly about his sexuality close to the Sochi Olympic games to shed light on Russia’s controversial anti-gay legislation.

Ari-Pekka Liukkonen at the Yle office. “Urheiluviikonloppu” means “Sports Weekend” in Finnish, and is the title of Yle’s weekend sports show that Liukkonen came out on. Jarno Ranta / Via Yle

“I wanted to start a broader discussion in connection with Sochi, because it’s sad that the legislation in Russia restricts the human rights of young people and others.”

Via Facebook: LiukkonenAP

The 24-year-old, the first in the country to come out during his career, said he is hoping for a more positive approach toward sexuality in the Finnish sporting world.

“In the future I would hope that elite athletes and other people will not find homosexuality to be any kind of news,” he said. Via Facebook: LiukkonenAP

Liuokkonen said it took him a while to accept his sexuality. “I tried to forget about it, but during high school I began to accept that I am made this way.”

He added, “Acceptance hasn’t necessarily been easy, but it hasn’t been horribly difficult either. This has been a long, slow process for me, but now I’m there.” Via Facebook: LiukkonenAP

The swimmer came out to his sister two years ago, and his parents last month.

“My family has received the news positively, and everyone has supported me,” he said. “Actually, they had already sensed that I am like this.” Via Facebook: LiukkonenAP

“Homosexuality is the same kind of characteristic as whether a person has blue or brown eyes, or whether they are left- or right-handed,” he said.

Via Facebook: LiukkonenAP

Read the entire interview here.

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Graduate student at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. University of Southern California grad. Diet Coke and Abby Wambach lover.
Contact Claire Pires at claire.pires@buzzfeed.com.
 
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