I'm Gay | John Fennell | Luge | News | Olympics | Sochi Olympics | Sports

Canadian Olympian Luger John Fennell: 'I Am Gay'

John Fennell, who competed for Canada in luge at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, has come out as gay in an interview with the Calgary Herald:

FennellNo more secrets. No more changing pronouns in conversations about personal relationships. No more fretting over perceived cracks in the story.

“It’s suffocating,” Fennell says of life inside the proverbial closet, even in the year 2014. “You have to play this game of, ‘who knows?’ You can’t let off any vibes or secrets. You have to act super macho. You have to be hyper aware of your mannerisms and to not let off any vibes that could get detected. It’s very exhausting.

“It’s an all-consuming paranoia of who could find out through what means.”

Fennell said he felt "isolated and alone" going into Sochi, which is part of what prompted his coming out, which he did while he was there:

“I was a little distraught over the lack of leadership going into Sochi,” he says of competing in country with laws forbidding “propaganda” of homosexuality to minors. “There were a few out girls, but to my knowledge there weren’t any out guys, and I know they’re there.

“I’m an athlete. Realistically, I put on a spandex suit and slide down a mountain. I’m no message board for political movements. But we need to have leaders in our sport community. If it takes a 19 year old to step up and to that, I’m more than willing to use my voice or the platform that I’ve been given to give a figurehead to gay youth in sport.”

Fennell, who said he was a "basket case" going into Russia, met with out Olympian Mark Tewksbury, who mentored him and inspired Fennell to find the courage to come out to his team while he was in Russia, and to his family when he got home.

 “You know that feeling when you’re falling asleep and you have that feeling that you’re falling, and you hit the ground, and you’re suddenly awake?” Fennell asks. “Well, that’s what it was like for me. I was totally, fully conscious all at once. A whole new aspect of myself opened up and it’s very liberating.”

Read the full article at the Calgary Herald...

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  1. wow, he looks good for someone who is over 1000 years old!

    Posted by: don | May 29, 2014 9:57:27 AM

  2. oy another gay luger - welcome? we have plenty thank you

    Posted by: dwarka | May 29, 2014 9:57:50 AM

  3. Who are these commenters ? Go F*ck yourselves dwaka and don

    Posted by: TigHeart | May 29, 2014 10:02:59 AM

  4. Zzzzzzzzz... Wake me when it's someone famous.

    Posted by: AJ | May 29, 2014 10:03:26 AM

  5. I'm not quite sure why someone would be bored at the news that an Olympic athlete came out as gay. I'm not that cynical. This is good news. I'm still happy reading these coming out stories from athletes. I'm 58, and I still remember the time when NO gay or lesbian was out in sports. Good for John Fennell

    Posted by: Terry | May 29, 2014 10:07:33 AM

  6. 19 years old. Good for him. And I can understand his fear and frustrations - I was beyond disappointed, into the realm of disgusted, at the cowardice of last year's Canadian Olympic Team. When Putin visited the Canada house - the athletes fawned over him for pics and selfies like Backstreet Boys fans. Canadians did not do us proud at the Olympics - and not in terms of medal wins, but in terms of doing what Canadians have historically done - stand up for what is right, with pride and strength. Sochi was an embarrassment. We were all told that a boycott was "the wrong way to send a message" - that we'd be better having a "Jesse Owens Moment" - well, moments came and went and nobody pulled a Jesse Owens.

    The message sent was loud and clear - in the face of Russia's bigotry and hate - olympians met it with the courage and integrity of a bowl of mashed potatoes. No simple Gestures. No strength. No solidarity.

    Good for this young man, who's doing at 19 what many folks who comment in here haven't done even as they approach middle-age - he's taking a vocal and visible stand.

    And his writings on the many lies we tell, while closeted, to feed the One Big Lie are spot-on. Well done, brother.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | May 29, 2014 10:12:40 AM

  7. "1014 Witner Olympics"? Some proofreading would be helpful.

    Posted by: Alan | May 29, 2014 10:22:23 AM

  8. "1014 Witner Olympics in Sochi"

    It's Russia. It only felt like the dark ages.

    Posted by: Acronym Jim | May 29, 2014 10:32:12 AM

  9. AJ: MARYAM/RICK, etc. Ignore the bitter troll.

    Posted by: BITTERMARYM | May 29, 2014 10:43:26 AM

  10. Wish him all the best..

    Posted by: Rob | May 29, 2014 10:52:02 AM

  11. I'm glad he came out. I'm also glad he described being in the closet as it truly is - suffocating. Coming out is an act of bravery and courage, no matter what a person's age. Among other good effects, coming out reminds others that 1) they are not alone and do not need to hide and 2)puts a human face on our community so that others can see we are regular folks like everyone else. Please, commenters, lets support our community rather than rip it apart.

    Posted by: Hawthorne | May 29, 2014 11:10:42 AM

  12. Congrats kiddo! Happy that you get to live your life on your terms!

    Posted by: dumbnhung | May 29, 2014 11:24:18 AM

  13. Wonderful. I wish him the best!

    (I sometimes wonder, how boring and meaningless life must be to some very bitter people. Have they any moments of happiness in their lives?)

    Posted by: Matt27 | May 29, 2014 11:33:22 AM

  14. Russia and Putin will get their comeuppance. dont fret. history will not look kindly at this period and that man. Congrats to anyone who, at the age of 19, has the courage, strength, and wherewithal to stand up and declare their sexuality as being different from expectations. I wish I was that aware when I was 19 and not terrified of the 'repercussions'. Took me until I was 35 to come out to my family, and really and wholly, to myself even. I missed out on many years. Congrats to this young man.

    Posted by: northoftheborderguy | May 29, 2014 11:33:35 AM

  15. Okay-- which rich Hollywood middle aged person will be dating this one?

    Robbie Rogers went to Greg Berlanti
    Tom Daley went to Dustin Lance Black.

    Posted by: chrissypoo | May 29, 2014 11:55:18 AM

  16. congrats but come on, towleroad. something like 1014 and witner should not have been missed.

    Posted by: Jesse | May 29, 2014 12:02:29 PM

  17. I see I'm a thousand years too late to post a joke about the typo.

    If only NBC would cover sports like luge, then we might know who this guy is. On the cynical side, clearly Olympic athletes are closeted out of consideration that their careers coming out of sports would be based on sponsorships. The logic their agents tell them is: get into games > win medals > become famous > profit from sponsorship deals. So they can't come out and spoil all that. You can't sell beer if you are gay, after all. With no sponsorships or prospects, he was certainly free to come out.

    Posted by: anon | May 29, 2014 12:33:26 PM

  18. He has an insanely warm smile. Yum!

    Posted by: Russ | May 29, 2014 12:58:44 PM

  19. Good for him!

    Posted by: reality | May 29, 2014 1:43:48 PM

  20. @Chrissy Poo.

    Greg Louganis?

    Posted by: Sam | May 29, 2014 1:44:59 PM

  21. @ChrissyPoo Jealous because they don't want you?

    Posted by: Kim | May 29, 2014 1:55:32 PM

  22. Great news.

    Posted by: jarago | May 29, 2014 5:09:18 PM

  23. Come on people, making fun of the luge and the bobsled event is standard fare.

    Posted by: Enchantra | May 29, 2014 10:12:18 PM

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