Real Athlete is an ongoing series of interviews with inspirational, out gay athletes from around the world. Are you a Real Athlete? Take our Real Athlete Survey.
A 54-year-old SoCal rookie wrestler, Ty Downey is finding the camaraderie he missed growing up in Kentucky.
What’s your team or group like?
I’m on the San Diego Bulldogs wrestling team. We’re 30 members from 26 to 55, some with high school wrestling and most beginners. I drive 150 miles each way for practice on Sundays to be part of this team. The friendship, teamwork and chemistry is awesome. It’s something I missed as a skinny youngster growing up in Kentucky. Attending the Gay Games will indeed be a life altering experience for me.
What’s your goal for the Gay Games?
My goal is to win a medal in my category and gather with likeminded people from around the world to celebrate our unity as a group.
How long have you been playing your sport?
I’ve been playing since June 2005. I’m a true beginner.
What role has/does sports/cultural performance play in your life? How much time per week?
I work out at my gym in Palm Springs four days per week plus wrestling in San Diego on Sundays.
Has someone served as an inspiration or as a mentor to you? If so, who?
Every gay athlete I have watched or read about who participates in the Games.
What prompted you to come out or stay in the closet? Please describe that experience for you.
In order to stay alive, I needed to live my own life. I was married for 16 years and raised two children. Coming out to myself required that I divorce my wife and separate from my children, as many gay men have done. The last nine years have been very rewarding and hurtful as well, but I have faith and believe in my life.