Venezuelan Olympic Diver Robert Páez publicly came out gay this week in an emotional essay.

The 23-year-old Páez, who competed in the three-meter springboard in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, said in his essay that he knew from a very young age that he was different and that that difference was not “right” in the eyes of society.

“It's a difficult road, to know at a young age that we feel something that makes us believe we are not 'right' in the eyes of society,” he wrote in an essay published in Outsports.

He continued that he believes he was born gay and that his sexuality kept him from fully participating in society. “I was at times ashamed to go out into society, to face who I really was.”

He came out to his mother at 18, telling her that he was in love.

“With a boy or a girl?” she wanted to know.

Páez said that he wanted to share his story to help make “homosexuality as common of a word as heterosexuality.”

“Accepting ourselves and respecting ourselves are big first steps. Life is too beautiful to be hidden in a closet,” he added.