U.S. Olympic gold medalist Kerron Clement celebrated National Coming Out Day (October 11) by coming out as gay publicly.
“I was tired of loving in the dark and being in the dark by myself,” he told Outsports.
The track and field star came out at a Nike event that celebrated a new rainbow track and field at Los Angeles City College.
“I was hiding that part [of me] because of what society thought,” Clement said. “But it’s okay to be that way. Nothing is wrong with loving someone of the same gender. Love is love. I have an attraction to men. It’s who I am and it’s what made me become the athlete I am today.”
He went on the explain that the bullying he received for being gay motivated him to be a successful athlete.
“I appreciate the hard times I went through when people made fun of me,” he said. “It made me stronger. When they said things behind my back, it made me have a tough skin and a backbone, and it made me work hard on the track. And I performed because I had something to prove. That’s what made me become an Olympic champion.”
Clement said that while he does identify as gay, he doesn’t like to label his love.
“I love,” he said. “It’s about loving somebody. I could be attracted to a female one day or a guy. I’m more attracted to men. But for me, love is love. It doesn’t matter. Though I do identify as a professional gay track and field athlete, and it’s made me become who I am today.”
Clement was a part of the 4×400-meter team at the 2008 Olympics that won a gold medal. That same year, he also won a silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles. Eight years later, he took home the gold in the 400-meter hurdles. The athlete also held the world record for the 400-meter indoor sprint, which he held for thirteen years (2005-2018). Clement is one of the most decorated Olympians to publicly come out.