A water polo star on Spain’s national team has come out as gay before heading to the Olympics in Rio.
Víctor Gutiérrez, the 25-year-old aquatic athlete from Madrid, came out on the cover of LGBTI website and magazine Shangay.
‘I’m out of the closet in my environment,’ he said, according to a translation of the story. ‘My family knows I’m gay, my friends too. And I’m living in such a positive way with my sexuality that I felt a responsibility to share it with others.’
Gutiérrez felt even though he has never met anyone who judged him on his sexual orientation, he felt as a gay athlete a ‘responsibility to discuss it’.
‘There have been more than 70 homophobic attacks in Madrid so far this year,’ he said. ‘It is a reality that we live in. And there are almost no athletes who are out of the closet. But in my experience, people have changed. As an athlete, my experience has been absolutely positive.’
The water polo star said he came out to his mother when he was 19, and she and all his family have been supportive.
‘I never sat down with the president of my club, the coach or teammates,’ he said, mentioning that when he had a boyfriend (he’s now single) he would just bring him to meet his teammates. ‘In the end, it is my life and I do what I want.’
He added that while he does not know of any other openly LGBTI elite water polo players, he said it would be easier for everyone is a big name in Spanish soccer or basketball were to come out.
‘I hope my coming out serves to break a taboo within the sport,’ he said. ‘You have to be judged not by your sexuality but by your sporting merit.’