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.
Thomas Long, 50, knows plenty about Different Strokes. It’s his swim team out of San Diego, Calif. Long hopes to win another gold medal at the Gay Games VII. He’s competing in springboard and platform diving at his fifth Gay Games.
Are you on a team? What are your events?
I’m on the Different Strokes swim team. I hope to be included on a relay team or two. But my primary sport will be springboard and platform diving.
What is your goal for Gay Games Chicago 2006?
I am going for the gold. After all, I only have one! I believe in the inclusion aspect of the games. Sure I want to win, but I want to entertain and have fun as well.
Do you or your team have any rivals?
Anyone in my age group is a rival and a friend.
How long have you been playing your sport? What role does it play in your life?
I’ve been diving since I was about 10 years old.
What do you consider your main achievements or accomplishments, whether in your sport or otherwise?
I was the International Springboard and Platform Champion, Kiev, Ukraine in 1990; won two International Top 10 Swimming Relays at the Yoyogi Swim Coliseum in Tokyo in 1988; and I was a bronze medalist at the Pan Pacific Diving Championships Inaugural Event in 1989.
Has someone served as an inspiration or as a mentor to you? If so, who?
My former partner, now deceased.
What prompted you to come out or stay in the closet? Please describe that experience for you..
OK, this might take some time to recollect. I slammed out of the closet at age 19, and never looked back. I am now 50 years old.
Interview courtesy of the Gay Games VII organizers. For more information about this year's Gay Games and how you can participate, visit www.chicagogaygames.org.