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This first-person story is written by Belgian archer Ivan Denis
I was 18 years old when I decided to come out as gay to the world and obviously, that was not easy. If it wasn’t for the support of my partner, I certainly wouldn’t have outed myself during my sports career. After thinking about how we would handle it and what consequences this could have, positive and negative, I eventually took the step.
I admitted I was gay in a magazine interview, so I had to tell my story just once. I had already informed my closest family a few days before social media and gossip reached the rest of the family, friends, schoolmates, the army and my sport shortly afterwards.
Afterwards, I did wonder if it was really worth it, waiting to come out and being secretive about it for so long, but as a professional athlete you have to take everything into account. For example, I had to rely on private sponsoring to finance my sport, as television coverage of archery is non-existent in the first place and Bloso (the Flemish Sports federation) didn’t show much support either at that time. Fortunately, I didn’t experience any difficulties with sponsors. My biggest sponsor back then was a Dutch company. Overall, the Netherlands are more evolved in terms of acceptance than Belgium, and being a rather small company without huge media campaigns, it made coming out to my sponsors much easier. READ MORE
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