Olympic diver Robert Páez comes out: ‘life is too beautiful to be hidden in a closet’

Olympic diver Robert Páez has shared an inspiring essay about celebrating “who he really is” and coming out of the closet.

The 23-year-old Venezuelan who competed as a diver in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics has said that he felt “at times ashamed to go out into society” because of who he was.

“I was born gay. As I got older I became more aware of it, and as I grew–like with so many others–it became my great dilemma. It was a source of worry that I was interested in things like dancing and fashion, things that in my culture were for women and gays,” he wrote in a column for Outsports.

“I shied away from doing many things. I was at times ashamed to go out into society, to face who I really was,” he continued.

“It’s a difficult road, to know at a young age that we feel something that makes us believe we are not “right” in the eyes of society. Yet the truth is that if I was born that way, it was because God created me and he wanted it that way. When I finally came to believe that, that’s when I understood that I should accept with pride and courage what others called “mariconeria,” he wrote.

“In sharing my story, I hope to help make homosexuality as common of a word as heterosexuality. We have to read it, say it, and accept it with clarity and maturity. He have to understand that we are all equal.

“Being gay does not make us less as a man, or girls less as a woman. Being gay is not a disease.

“Accepting ourselves and respecting ourselves are big first steps. Life is too beautiful to be hidden in a closet,” he added.

In an Pew Research Centre survey, 51% of Venezeualans said that society should accept homosexuality.

Same-sex marriage is currently not recognised in Venezuela.

It is also illegal to change your legal gender in the country.