27-year-old golfer Tadd Fujikawa has made history by becoming the first US Open competitor to publicly come out as gay.
Fujikawa was the youngest person to ever qualify for the US Open in 2006, when he qualified at just 15 years old. He also qualified for the PGA Tour Event a year later. 12 years from his first US Open debut, Fujikawa has become the first openly gay competitor of the male US Open tournament according to Outsports.
The golfer shared his story in a personal Instagram.
He wrote, “So…I’m gay. Many of you may have already known that. I don’t expect everyone to understand or accept me. But please be gracious enough to not push your beliefs on me or anyone in the LGBTQ community. My hope is this post will inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another.”
Fujikawa added that his decision to open up about his personal life did not come easily to him, explaining, “I’ve been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality. I thought that I didn’t need to come out because it doesn’t matter if anyone knows. But I remember how much other’s stories have helped me in my darkest times to have hope. I spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was. I was always afraid of what others would think/say. I’ve struggled with my mental health for many years because of that and it put me in a really bad place.”
He said that at the end of the day, his decision to open up was motivated by the difference he could make to the lives of those that looked up at him. He wrote:
“Now I’m standing up for myself and the rest of the LGBTQ community in hopes of being an inspiration and making a difference in someone’s life. Although it’s a lot more accepted in our society today, we still see children, teens, and adults being ridiculed and discriminated against for being the way we are. Some have even taken their lives because of it. As long as those things are still happening, I will continue to do my best to bring more awareness to this issue and to fight for equality. Whether the LGBTQ is what you support or not, we must liberate and encourage each other to be our best selves, whatever that may be. It’s the only way we can make this world a better place for future generations.”
He added that even though this revelation was a personal one, he wanted it to spark a larger conversation about the LGBTQ community, “I don’t want this to be focused on me. I just want to spread love and acceptance to others who are in a similar situation. If anyone out there is struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU ARE ENOUGH…AS IS, EXACTLY AS YOU ARE!”
Fujikawa added, “I can’t wait for the day we all can live without feeling like we’re different and excluded. A time where we don’t have to come out, we can love the way we want to love and not be ashamed. We are all human and equal after all. So I dare you…spread love. Let’s do our part to make this world a better place.”
Read the full statement below:
Fujikawa also addressed the fact that his post was on World Suicide Prevention Day, saying it was totally coincidental.