John Fennell, Canadian luge athlete who competed st Sochi, comes out gay

Sat. May 31, 2014 9:06 AM by

Olympian John Fennell has come out gay.

Fennell, a Canadian luge athlete who competed at this year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, publicly discussed his sexuality for the first time in an interview with the Calgary Herald.

"It's something I was aware of, but something I didn't act upon for a long time," Fennell, 19, told the paper. "It was something I tried to hide. I dated girls in high school."

He said he left his phone and computer at home while in Russia out of fear he would be arrested for breaking the nation's law prohibiting the promotion of "gay propaganda" to minors.

"[W]hich was a testament to how nervous I was going in," he said. "I was a basket case going to Russia."

He described keeping his sexuality a secret as "an all-consuming paranoia of who could find out through what means."

Fennell responded to messages of support. "I'm so blessed to have such positivity around my life.There aren't words for this feeling. Thank you," he tweeted to his more than 1,200 followers.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine