Depending on where you live, taking part in competitive sports while being openly gay isn’t always easy. 19-year-old medal-winning diver Aidan Faminoff kept his sexual orientation a secret for years – until, last year, he decided to come out publicly.

In a new personal column, he talks about the courage it took, the struggles – and the person who inspired him to come out.

Aidan Faminoff gay diver
Photo: Instagram

Aidan, who was born in Canada, is currently majoring in International Affairs at Florida State University, and is also a diver on the school’s swimming and diving team.

Writing for OutSports, Aidan remembers how it all started for him – and how confusing it was in the early years.

“I was confused as to why I was attracted to men. Throughout middle school and high school, I would keep this to myself. I created a fake persona so I could blend in with the guys.

My friends and I would be gathered around our high school in British Columbia, and I would get sick of hearing the guys catcalling and talking about the cute girls.

I wanted to scream because I wanted to be able to talk openly and freely about my attraction to men. I just wanted to let out the feelings and emotions that were building up.”

Diving helped Aidan take his mind off his struggles – but he also felt like he was hiding his true self from the rest of the team.

A female friend who was openly bisexual, inspired him to come out to a few friends. The girl, as is often the case, said she has “known for years” that he was gay.

Then, in October 2017, on “National Coming Out Day”, Aidan decided to come out publicly – very publicly – on his Instagram page.

“Now that I was finally free and open to the public”, Aidan writes a year later, “I felt relieved. A weight was lifted off of me. I received numerous messages that were supporting me and telling how brave I was to come out.”

Aidan pinpoints the moment he finally felt totally comfortable around his teammates – and it involved a “Village People” song, as the team was on a plane and someone pulled out a speaker.

“Out of boredom and feeling very comfortable around my teammates, I decided we needed to get up and dance. I requested ‘YMCA’ by the Village People. Next thing I knew a bunch of my teammates, plus the flight attendant, joined me in dancing to the song.

“In this moment I realized I was completely comfortable around my teammates and I was more than just a diver to them. I felt I was like family and they accepted all of me, including my offbeat parts.”

Read Aidan’s full column right here.