Shawn Barber (Facebook)
Canadian world champion pole vaulter Shawn Barber has come out as a proudly gay man, further opening the closet door for LGBT athletes.
On Monday, the 22-year-old took to Facebook to open up about his sexuality. “Gay and proud! Thank you to my parents for being such a great support,” he wrote.
“I continue to grow as a person and have a great support group,” Barber added. “My parents are my greatest support and have helped me through a lot recently. To my friends, you are always my friends and I love you too!”
Barber is the current reigning world champion in the pole vault, having won the event with a height of 5.90 m at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics in Beijing.
He is also the reigning Pan American Games champion and won a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
According to OutSports.com, by coming out “Barber instantly becomes one of the highest-profile and most successful current openly gay athletes anywhere in the world”.
The young sports star’s Facebook post has been met with overwhelming support. Friends and fans have congratulated him on his openness in a field that is not always known for its acceptance of LGBT athletes.
“Now you can truly be you and hopefully inspire other LGBTIQ young people to live a free, open and honest life being their true selves,” wrote Jamie Bloomfield.
Scott Bladon added: “Thank you for having the courage to share a piece of your life story with the world. Coming out is difficult but mark my words, you will never ever look back!”