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U.S. hurdles star Trey Cunningham comes out as gay: 'I had to take my time'

Trey Cunningham
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Cunningham did not qualify for the upcoming Paris Olympics but is ranked 11th in the world in the men's 110-meter hurdle race.

After competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials last month, track and field star Trey Cunningham has come out as gay.

The hurdler applied a lesson from his athletic training to his personal life in his decision to open up, explaining in a recent interview with The New York Timeshow a mantra motivated him to live authentically.

“We say our goals out loud,” Cunningham said. “If there’s something we want to achieve, we say it. Putting something in words makes it real.”

The 25-year-old athlete has been out to his friends and family for over five years, he said, though it hasn't always been easy. Cunningham revealed that his conversation with his loved ones was the “scariest thing I’ve ever done," as he was also coming to terms with the revelations about himself.

Cunningham described his childhood home in Winfield, Ala., as “rural, quite conservative, quite religious: the sort of place where you did not want to be the gay kid at school." Because of his upbringing, he said, “It took me a while to know it felt right."

"I had certain expectations of what my life would look like, and it took me a little while to get my head around it looking different to that," he explained. “What was true for me was also true for my parents. They had certain expectations for their little boy, for what his life would be like, and that’s OK. I gave them a five-year grace period. I had to take my time. They could take theirs too.”

In the present, Cunningham did not qualify for the upcoming Paris Olympics, but he is ranked 11th in the world in the men's 110-meter hurdle race. He won the silver medal at the 2022 world championships, hosted in Eugene, Ore.

Cunningham said he is "really lucky to have a group of people who did not care" about his sexuality, among both his loved ones and fellow runners. Track and field has long embraced him, leading Cunningham to believe that the "sport for misfits" has "something for everyone."

“The only thing that matters is whether you’re running fast today or not,” he said.

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.