British distance swimmer Dan Jervis revealed that he is gay. The Olympian made the announcement shortly after competing at the World Championships in Budapest.
“I was adjusting to everything else, just trying to fit in — until I thought, Just be you,” Jervis told the BBC’s LGBT Sport Podcast.
In part, he said, he was inspired by Jake Daniels’s recent coming-out. The 17-year-old professional British soccer player announced in May that he’s gay, the first such announcement in the sport in the last 30 years.
Jervis said he wants to be a role model for those LGBTQ+ people who see him competing on TV.
He described how rewarding it is to know that people will feel validated when they see him competing.
“You know, we’re just before the Commonwealth Games, and there are going to be kids and adults watching who will know that I’m like them and that I’m proud of who I am,” he said.
“Now is a good time for me because the Commonwealth Games is in a month’s time, and there’s going to be a lot of people watching that, and there’s so many countries in the Commonwealth where being gay is illegal. And for me to be [visible] on that stage and to inspire people is what I’m here to do,” Jervis explained.
He admitted that it took him a long time to come to terms with his sexuality and that it was not an easy process.
“For so long, I hated who I was — and you see it all the time, people who are dying over this. They hate themselves so much that they’re ending their lives,” Jervis told host Jack Murley. “So if I can just be that someone people can look at and say, ‘Yeah, they’re like me,’ then that’s good.”
When Jervis was 24, he decided to tell a close friend of his sexual orientation. He said she wasn't expecting it, but it was still a good experience.
“At that point, I’d never said the words out loud to myself,” he said. “Everyone’s journey is different, but I think I’ve always known.”
The 26-year-old believes it is critical to demonstrate that combining faith and LGBTQ+ identities is possible.
“I grew up in a Christian family, and it’s the thing in my life I am most proud of, and I stand by that right now,” the athlete said. “But it just happens that I'm also gay.”
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