Robbie Manson (Pic: Facebook)

New Zealand rower Robbie Manson, who competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games, has revealed that he is gay.

In an article published by Outsports on Tuesday, Manson said that he had spent much of his life trying to hide the fact that he is gay.

This led him to become, he said, “very quiet and shy, shutting myself off and avoiding attention for fear that someone might discover my deepest, darkest secret: I’m gay.”

He admitted that,”I looked down on other people who were gay, and to a degree felt sorry for them, thinking to be gay was to be ‘less than.’ I knew I was gay too, and I hated myself because of it.”

Even though at the age of 19 his older brother had come out to him, it took Manson another two years to come out to his close family.

And it was only when he was selected to be in the New Zealand Olympic team two years ago that he started telling more people about his sexuality. Now he’s gone public.

“I feel like my perspective has changed so much and now I’m not only proud to be gay, but I’m glad that I am,” Manson said.

“I wouldn’t want to be any other way. I think it makes me more interesting, and it’s something that does make me different in a good way. I learned that I’m a lot stronger and more resilient than I gave myself credit for, and that other people are far more accepting than I thought they would be.”

He explained that he hopes that sharing his experience will help other people come to terms with their sexuality, especially in the sporting world.

“I hope that my story can add something to what is already out there. To show other people who might be struggling with their sexuality, not only that it’s ok to be gay, but it’s a good thing, and it won’t change who you are or limit what you can achieve. At the end of the day, it’s only one of the many things that define me as a person.

“It’s how hard you’re prepared to work for something and your talent that determines what you can achieve, not your sexuality,” said Manson.

Manson’s Twitter feed was flooded with messages from well-wishers and supporters in response to the article.

Rowing New Zealand tweeted: “We applaud your decision 2 speak out & hope it will help more gay athletes feel confident, supported & embrace who they are.”

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