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Finnish Olympian Swimmer Comes Out As Gay

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

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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.

Jarno Ranta / Via Yle

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.

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.

Via Facebook: LiukkonenAP

"In the future I would hope that elite athletes and other people will not find homosexuality to be any kind of news," he said.

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."

Via Facebook: LiukkonenAP

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."

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

Via Facebook: LiukkonenAP

"My family has received the news positively, and everyone has supported me," he said. "Actually, they had already sensed that I am like this."

Read the entire interview here.

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