Olympic swimmer Sean Gunn comes out as gay

Olympian Sean Gunn poses on a beach with a medal

Olympic swimmer Sean Gunn has come out as gay.

The Zimbabwean athlete, who competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, spoke to OutSports about coming out, revealing that he had told his teammates at university in the US before opening up to his family at the age of 27. 

“My team, and everyone who did know, was very supportive and happy for me,” Gunn said of his fellow swimmers at the University of Kentucky. 

“I honestly don’t think anything changed at all. In my head, I built it up for so long and was terrified that the way they acted or treated me would be different.

“But I was really lucky: everyone was amazing and wanted me to be the happiest version of myself.”

Gunn, now 30 and living in South Africa with his boyfriend, added: “As someone who did struggle with coming out and only [did so] at 27 to my family, it makes me happy to be surrounded by friends and family and so much love, and am really grateful for them all.”

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Sean Gunn has come out as gay. (Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images)

Gunn competed in the 100-metre freestyle at the Rio 2016 Olympics, setting what was then a new a national record. 

“I’m not that much of a person who cries, but before walking into the stadium at the opening ceremony, I definitely got emotional,” he said of his Olympic experience. “I couldn’t believe I was there, surrounded by so many people I had looked up to and admired for years.

“I had dreamed of going to the Olympics since I was a little kid, and the whole time I was there I had to keep reminding myself that this is real life.

“Knowing how much it took for me to get there has been a solid reminder to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to.”

Gunn’s competitive swimming career ended a year after the Olympics and he now runs more than he swims but he “loved every second of the whole experience”, he said. 

With other sportsmen, including footballers Jake Daniels and Josh Cavallo, coming out in recent years, research has found that fans are more welcoming of the LGBTQ+ community than ever.

The study revealed that 74 per cent of 12 million sport fans, who saw Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign in 2022, considered LGBTQ+ people to be part of the sporting community – an increase from 68 per cent the previous year.

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