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A British Athlete Came Out On National TV To Inspire Other LGBT Sportspeople

Tom Bosworth, a British hope for success at the Rio 2016 Olympics, came out on the Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC Two.

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This morning, Bosworth came out as gay on BBC Two's Victoria Derbyshire show. He is the first British track and field athlete to do so.

Excl: "In sport being gay is still not a normal thing" - British No 1 racewalker @TomBosworth on coming out-bbc2 now

"I'm here to speak publicly for the first time about my sexuality, to come out," the 25-year-old told Victoria Derbyshire.

"To my family and friends this is no surprise.

"It is a big decision, but it's not one that's going to change my life personally. I've been comfortable in my sexuality and in a happy relationship for the last four and a half years."

"To speak out about this, being a sportsman, it's still news unfortunately. In a few years' time I can really see this just being anybody else, anybody can succeed in sport, and if more people can come out, then that will be evident. It's a scary thing. I'm really lucky, I've got a loving partner, a great family behind me, everyone is really supportive and welcoming. I've got no problem at all. That's not the same with everyone else though, unfortunately, in this sport. In sport, I don't think being gay is still a normal thing. I can't tell you why, I don't have an answer for that. In most other things now it's very normal to have a gay colleague, teachers, anything, any line of work it's common to be open. In sport it's not."

The majority of people in the sport have been supportive of Bosworth, but he revealed that he faced "nasty" name-calling during the early days of his career.

"It's been 99% positive. Some people were shocked, and some weren't shocked at all. But I wouldn't be sat here without them. [My teammates] asked similar questions: 'Was it hard?', 'Do you get any sort of stick?' I've had some negativity from a few athletes in the past, a long time ago now. They pop up occasionally. Not everybody sees the world through my eyes. That was difficult, I got called some really nasty names. They wouldn't call me by my name, they'd only refer to me as 'fag', or 'queer'. They'd find themselves funny, but not many people found them funny. I brushed them off, they're not in my life any more. It wasn't anyone in the British team – they were all really supportive. It was difficult, but they're not in my life any more."

But these people were in the minority, and the British track and field team have been incredibly supportive of Bosworth. One particular supporter has been British Olympic legend Mo Farah.

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"This summer I spent quite a lot of time with the endurance team before the world championships," Bosworth told the BBC.

"Mo Farah asked some questions and was really supportive, he didn't bat an eyelid. I had some funny banter with him, I'm not sure he liked that I beat him 3-0 on FIFA though.

"He asked if I had a partner, and how old I was when I came out."

Bosworth advised other athletes in his position to "be brave", but consult their friends before coming out.

"If you're going to speak publicly about it, discuss it with your friends, family, partner, coaches, make sure they are supportive.

"Be brave, make the decisions because the more we can speak about it, the less attention it will get."

Bosworth's belief is that there must be more LGBT athletes who don't feel comfortable being open about their sexuality, but he says it's harder to hide it than it is to be open about it.

"I believe that other gay athletes must be out there, because the numbers game just doesn't add up. It doesn't have to be public, just be open and live an open life rather than feel the need to hide it. That's the sad thing, feeling the need to hide who you are.

"I remember what it was like hiding it from my family and friends and it was really difficult."

While Tom Bosworth is the first British track and field athlete to come out, his fellow Team GB athlete Tom Daley publicly announced that he had a boyfriend in a YouTube video in December 2013.

View this video on YouTube

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Bosworth described Daley as "brave", and hopes he and his namesake can be an inspiration to other LGBT sportsmen and sportswomen.

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