Gay Olympian Tom Bosworth urges closeted queer athletes to come out: ‘The numbers don’t add up’

Tom Bosworth

Team GB Olympian Tom Bosworth has urged closeted LGBT+ athletes to come out if it’s safe for them to do so, promising them “it will only benefit you”.

The race walker, who came out publicly ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016, told the Daily Mail that the small number of openly queer athletes “doesn’t add up”.

Bosworth said that sharing his sexuality publicly didn’t change his life significantly as he was already out to his family and his club – however, it made him see just how badly sport was lagging behind.

“I can’t believe that I had such an impact as I did,” he said. “It shows us just how few people have done what I did. In countries where a lot of sport is played and publicised, it makes no sense.

“I am aware of more athletes who now are living quite openly but there are still very few at the highest level representing their country.”

He continued: “It still feels, not a taboo subject, but just hushed away from. When you have 11,000 athletes at the Olympics and just 150 out gay sports men and women, it just doesn’t add up.”

His words echoed a speech he gave after being honoured at the 2016 PinkNews Awards, where he said: “I’ve realised sport is behind everything else… let’s give sport a kick up the backside to become more inclusive.”

Tom Bosworth says coming out can improve an athlete’s performance

Speaking to the Mail, Tom Bosworth went on to suggest that it might be easier for track and field athletes to come out as they don’t get as much publicity or attention as others.

He also thinks coming out as LGBT+ can improve an athlete’s overall performance while also helping others feel emboldened to open up about their identities.

“I always say nowadays it’s all about being visible,” he said.

“If you are fortunate enough to be in a relationship with a supportive family, in a country or place where living openly is pretty safe, I really would recommend it because it will only benefit you and your mental health.

“You’ll probably perform better as well because you’re not worried about it.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Bosworth said he thinks there would be a “snowball effect” if even one high-profile footballer in the UK was to come out as LGBT+.

“So much prejudice still exists and you get idiots on social media, so for footballers that’s going to be very difficult to manage and it could be a difficult period of time,” he said.