US hurdles star Trey Cunningham comes out as gay

Trey Cunningham running at an athletic competition.

US track star Trey Cunningham has come out as gay.

The 25-year-old hurdler came out in an emotional interview published in The New York Times on Monday (8 July). He told journalist Rory Smith that coming out to his parents five years ago was the “scariest thing I’ve ever done,” but has prepared himself to do so publicly.

Cunningham said the “rural, quite conservative, quite religious” town of Winfield, Alabama, where he grew up, was the sort of place where “you did not want to be the gay kid at school“, adding: “I had certain expectations of what my life would look like, and it took me a little while to get my head around it looking different to that.

It was in college when he started to “explore the idea,” of coming out but there was no lightbulb moment. “It took me a while to know it felt right,” he said.

Trey Cunningham during an athletic competition.
Hurdler Trey Cunningham has come out as gay. (Getty)

“What was true for me was also true for my parents. They had certain expectations for their little boy, for what his life would be like, and that’s OK. I gave them a five-year grace period. I had to take my time. They could take theirs, too.”

Despite the internal struggle over revealing his sexuality, he is a 24-time state champion and three-time World Athletic U20 record holder. In 2022, he won a silver medal in the 110m hurdles meters at the 2022 World Championships. He won the National Collegiate Athletics Association outdoor championships at 60m and 110m, along with the 60m indoor event in the same year, while competing for Florida State.

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He was also named amateur athlete of the year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.

Cunningham said that the track-and-field community is incredibly supportive. “The only thing that matters is whether you’re running fast today or not. There are lots of people who are in this weird space. They’re not out. But it is kind of understood.”

Despite the unconditional acceptance of his sexuality by his friends, his sexuality might be an issue if he were to travel to places where homosexuality is illegal. He said he would have to consult his management before traveling to a meet in a country such as Qatar.

But, as The New York Times article notes, Cunningham believes the pressure of keeping his sexuality private inhibited his ability to race and he feels a great weight has been lifted from his shoulders.

Despite missing out on selection for the Olympics later this month, after finishing only ninth in the 110m hurdles a US trials in June, he is still ranked 11th in the world.

While at university, he took a master’s degree in sport management, with his thesis focusing on sports psychology.

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