In an interview with the Spanish gay and lesbian media outlet Shangay, Olympic water polo player Victor Gutiérrez, who plays for Madrid, came out as gay. Gutiérrez will be heading to Rio de Janeiro in August for the Summer Olympics 2016.
"I hope my coming out serves to break a taboo within the sport," Gutiérrez said, according to Outsports. "You have to be judged not by your sexuality but by your sporting merit." He added, "As a gay athlete, I feel the responsibility to discuss it."
Gutiérrez is an elite athlete who plays on the Spanish national water polo team and also the Real Real Canoe Natación Club, based in Madrid, according to his Instagram. His coming out as gay follows fellow Olympic athlete and U.S. professional skier Gus Kenworthy, who opened up to the media about his own coming out back in October.
Gutiérrez came out to his mother when he was 19 years old. The 25-year-old said his friends and family have known about his sexual orientation for a while now, and have been nothing but supportive, the Olympic water polo player told Shangay. Gutiérrez said that although he doesn't know any fellow out water polo players on the elite level, he's never felt discriminated against for being gay in his sport.
However, he maintains that there's still a stigma in the Spanish sports world. If a major Spanish soccer or basketball athlete comes out, then that could help encourage other gay athletes to do the same, Gutiérrez said. But for now, Spain remains a place where LGBT people are still the targets of hate crimes. In Madrid, there's an average of one hate crime against an LGBT person every two days, according gay rights group Arcópoli.
Other than playing water sports, Gutiérrez has a dual degree in journalism and audiovisual communication, according to his Instagram.