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Olympic Medal-Winning Boxer Irma Testa Comes Out

Irma Testa

Fear of judgment in her sport kept the bronze medal-winning Italian athlete from sharing her truth publicly -- until now.

Italian boxer Irma Testa, who won bronze in the women's featherweight category at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, has come out as queer.

"The people around me have known this for years, but I think it's right now to tell everyone. Speaking of sexual orientation in the world of sport has a special value because champions are expected to be perfect," Testa told Vanity Fair Italia. "And for many homosexuality is still an imperfection. Many athletes stay silent and hide away for fear of damaging their image. For me, too, it was like that up to a few months ago."

For Testa, winning her medal in the Olympics was life-changing, because not only did she successfully represent her country and talent, but it gave her the confidence to finally come out. "But that Tokyo medal has become my shield: Now that Irma the athlete is secure, Irma the woman can be sincere," she said.

As for how she identifies, Testa says she's not interested in giving herself a label anytime soon. "I'm not saying I'm a lesbian because there can also be a man in my future. Since I was a little girl I have been attracted to women, but sometimes I have also felt it to men. The labels must be there: to make things become normal you must first go through the labels. But I don't use them because I don't like them," she explained.

Now that she's out, Testa is ready to come out swinging for her community.

She is ready to stand up for those who fear -- as she did -- being targeted for discrimination and bullying for sharing their authentic selves with the world. "Every human being should be protected and safe. Or at least protected. Who can protect you if not the state, its institutions, its laws?" Testa said. "There are still too many people discriminated against and this is not good. I can't do much, but I can, by telling the truth about myself, say that nothing is wrong [with being LGBTQ+]."

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