In the years Outsports has been publishing, one of the most frequent questions we have asked about Olympians is whether Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe is gay. At various points, he has denied it or deflected the question. A profile of Thorpe in Sunday's London Telegraph has the Aussie neither confirming nor denying it:
"I tick all the boxes," he admits. "There is no way I can answer this. It really has just got to the stage when I say, 'whatever'. It's not a big deal for me. It doesn't impact on my life what people think.
"What I don't like about it is that people think I'm being dishonest. That's what's so hurtful in all of this. I don't live my life as an open book, but what I do say, I don't retract. That is me."
Thorpe is obsessed with fashion (he wears Armani), loves gardening and cooking and caused more questions in 2009 when it was revealed that he had been living for three years with Brazilian swimmer Daniel Mendes; they were called nothing but roommates, though the two did attend social functions together.
Thorpe failed in his attempts to qualify for Australia's Olympic swimming team this year, but will take another shot for 2016. He has been in London as a swimming analyst for the BBC, getting rave reviews for his insight and dry wit. The Telegraph profiled him for his role and author Harry Wallop was not intending to probe Thorpe's sexuality. That is, until:
The night before this interview his agent rings me up and, out of the blue, says: "The one thing you can't ask him about is his sexuality." I had no intention of doing so, but now that he's made it an issue, I am intrigued.
Thorpe is not homosexual, I am assured, but this will not stop people on the internet speculating about his svelte looks, cultured interests and friendships.
Leave it to the agent to try to throw cold water on any questions like that. They might be the biggest impediment to an athlete coming out. I find it funny that the agent says Thorpe is straight but the swimmer won't say.
Thorpe is writing his biography where he promises "more than one revelation." Anything short of him saying he's gay would not be much of a revelation. He is allowed to define his sexuality as he sees fit, and if he is gay, can come out -- or not -- when he is ready. If Thorpe (winner of five gold medals) is gay, he would join Greg Louganis as the most prominent gay male Olympian ever.