Two gay swimmers have opened up about how they helped one another through the coming out process.

Axel Reed and Josh Velasquez are two swimmers from Southern California. They first met each other at swim meets in Orange County, California and eventually became good friends before they went to university.

In an essay by the pair for OutSports, they reveal that their friendship became stronger after they came out.

“Swimmers have a special connection, and that was the reason we clicked,” Axel and Josh said. However, they noticed that there was a connection that went beyond just being swimmers. “There was something else though, another reason why our friendship was different.”

They came to discover that what they had in common was that they are both gay after Axel worked up the courage to tell Josh in a text.

“Josh opened the text and all it said was, ‘I’m gay, Josh. Are you?’ Josh waited about 10 minutes to reply because he didn’t know if he was ready, but with confidence he replied, ‘Yeah, I am, Axel.’

“That day was when we became each other’s rock,” they wrote.

Save water, shower with me

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Axel came out a year before Josh, so he was able to give Josh advice on the process. However, the pair’s friendship became strained during this period. Axel had a boyfriend, and Josh was still striggling to accept himself. “Josh tried to push Axel away, but Axel never let that happen. He would always make sure his friend was OK, because of what Axel went through after coming out.”

“Axel would be the one to call, Facetime, text and always make sure Josh was OK,” they wrote.

Axel used his own experience to let Josh know that everything would be okay, despite the trials of coming out and other mental health issues Josh faced. “He would remind him that what he was going through was just a speed bump and that everything would work out.”

They end the letter on a positive note, writing that they ” have never been happier with ourselves. We’re finally letting people into our lives and letting them get to know the real Josh and Axel, not the disguise they used to wear.”