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First lesbian world champion surfer wins major title, gives inspiring speech

First lesbian world champion surfer wins major title, gives inspiring speech

Lesbian world champion surfer Keala Kennelly

Earlier this week, Keala Kennelly accepted the award for the Women’s Big Wave World Title for her performance at the 2018 Jaws Challenge in Maui.

During her acceptance speech, she said she wanted to inspire LGBTI athletes to embrace their authentic selves. She also spoke about closing the gender pay gap between male and female athletes.

‘How many of you knew what you wanted to be when you were seven years old?’ she opened her acceptance speech. ‘I did. I wanted to be a world champion.’

 

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She then added: ‘[But] I wasn’t dreaming big enough. Now I’m part of an elite group of athletes pushing the limits of what humans are even capable of.

‘I needed to dream bigger because when I was 25, I was hiding in the closet, soaked in shame, living in fear and I hated myself. I didn’t think you could be world champion and gay at the same time.

‘Now I get to the be the first openly gay world champion. I get to be proud of who I am and I get to love myself exactly as I am, not as people would want me to be.

‘It’s my hope that I’m going to inspire other LGBT athletes that are suffering in silence to live your truth,’ she said.

Keala Kennelly: ‘Dream the crazy big dreams’

Kennelly also revealed when she was 25, the gender pay gap was so much larger than it is now.

‘Now I get to be world champion with equal pay,’ the 40-year-old world champion surfer said. She also said it’s important for women to uplift women in sport.

‘Dream the big crazy dreams because you never know which ones are gonna come true,’ she added.

Kennelly then took to Instagram to post a series of photos holding her trophy, as well as thank her girlfriend.

 

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She wrote in the caption to the photo: ‘I want to thank everybody in my life that helped me get here. My family, my friends, my partners, my bubbie.’

Kennelly also dedicated her award to her seven-year-old son, Kekoa.

‘This is for my son Kekoa,’ she wrote. ‘He lives hundreds of miles away from the nearest ocean.’

She then added: ‘Not being in my son’s life as much as I would like to be has been one of the most painful sacrifices I have had to make for the sport that I love.’

See also: 

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