Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe has spoken out about the homophobic bullying that left him afraid to be open with his sexual identity as a teenager. The five-time gold medallist made the comments on Tuesday (November 15) at a pro-equal marriage event in Sydney Australia, news.com.au reports. Speaking at Twitter's offices in Sydney, he said: “When I was about 16 I was accused of being gay and because it was in that tone, I always thought of it as a negative, of not being equal. “It was frightening. I knew I should have come out earlier but I never thought that I could, I didn’t have the confidence to do it,” he added. “When I did come out it was to close friends and then my family which was the most difficult for me.”Thorpe, who came out publicly in 2014, is currently in a relationship with fellow Australian and underwear model Ryan Channing. The pair are among the latest stars to back the 'Say I Do Down Under' campaign currently being led by Kylie Minogue's fiance Joshua Sasse. “I struggled to come out but I don’t struggle with being out,” he told the audience. The first person he told was his sister, who suggested he tell their parents together. “I come from a conservative family and my heart was racing," he explained. "I had prepared for it and then I blurted it out and they quite simply told me that they would love me and always support me.
“It was overwhelming and I was so pleased I would be accepted by my own family,” Thorpe said.