Belgian elite cyclist Justin Laevens
has come out gay.
Laevens is one of only a handful of pro
male riders to come out.
Laevens, 19, told Belgian website
sportNU.be that he's been struggling with the decision to come out
publicly for a couple of years.
“I had been thinking about it for two
years. It was a big step,” he
said. “My parents were very positive about it. I was especially
afraid of the reactions of bigger riders or teams, that they would
look at me differently, but I don’t think that’s the case.”
“Being out in the sports world is
difficult. I hope I can set an example for other athletes, for riders
or for cyclocrossers who may still be hidden in their shell,” he
said, referring to cyclo-cross, a form of bicycle racing popular in
Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.
He added that he doesn't know any out
cyclists. “I didn't find it difficult to express myself, but I did
in sport, because I don't know any [cyclist] who is gay,” he said.
In an Instagram post, Laevens thanked
followers for their “beautiful and positive messages.”
“Thank you for all your beautiful and
positive messages!” he captioned a photo of himself. “I hope to
be an example to others. Stay yourself, enjoy your life & be
happy yourself! [heart emoji]”