Tom Bosworth is just 25 years old, but already holds three British records in race walking – for which he is currently ranked 1st overall for the 20km in the UK (which he completed in 1 hour, 22 minutes and 20 seconds...if you’re counting). As he looks forward to competing at his first Olympics in Rio this summer, he has spoken for the first time about being gay, in a year which has been positive and encouraging for LGBT visibility in sport.
You came out as gay on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC in October. Why did you decide to do it at that time?
Over the last year – especially with making the World Championships in October, and with the Olympic Games coming up – I started getting attention, especially in the athletics world, from fans and that. Social media is a great tool, but everybody wants to know everything about you, and I always knew if I wanted to win medals one day, I was going to end up with media – even in a small event like mine – and I wanted to tackle that early, when there were no races going on. I’m really comfortable in my own personal life so I thought, let’s just put it out there. It doesn’t have to be a big news story.
I’m assuming you’d been out for a while in your personal life?
Yeah, I’ve been out to my family for about four or five years. It took me a bit longer with them, because obviously I was a bit more nervous about speaking to my family, but I’d spoken to my friends first when I was about 17 or 18. I knew I had the right support. I have a loving partner and a loving family, which I’m so lucky to have, and that makes it easier. I spoke with my manager about it and he said that the Victoria Derbyshire show was the way to go, because it’s not too political, it doesn’t try to spin stories, and they’ll support us well, and they did, they were fantastic.
It’s been another promising year for sports stars coming out. Have you been inspired by the likes of Keegan Hirst and Tom Daley?
Yeah, completely. Rugby has now got quite a few out athletes, and Tom, as you mentioned, as well as footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger. It shows that it’s all fine. To be honest I was surprised by how much attention and positivity I received me when I came out. I thought, ‘Wow, this is great’, and if I can be a role model of any kind then I’ll take that and I will make sure I really live up to that. It’s really important to me. If I can help even one person, then I will happily take that on my shoulders. The more people who come out across different sports, and backgrounds, and worlds, that’s very important. When you see another person coming out – whether it’s a huge sports star, or just your friend – it can really inspire you.
You’re following in the footsteps of Greg Rutherford, as a ginger athlete gracing the pages of Attitude. How does it feel to be alive in an age where sexy gingers are truly embraced?
That’s a nice compliment, thank you! I’m really proud of my red hair. Growing up it was just another thing for bullies to use, but now it is almost a trend, it’s quite cool. I take anything that God gave me and use it to the best of my abilities!
You can read our full four-page feature with Tom in the new issue of Attitude, out in shops now. Download the issue from attitudedigital.co.uk or order a print copy from newsstand.co.uk/Attitude.