It has been 20 years since Mark Tewksbury came out publicly in what’s widely considered to be the first time a Canadian Olympian openly identified themselves as gay. He made front page headlines and the move caused him to lose a six-figure motivational speaking contract because he was declared “too gay.”
Tewksbury, who won a gold medal in the 100-metre backstroke at the 1992 Summer Olympics, recently sat down with The National‘s Adrienne Arsenault to talk about what has changed since that moment for gay athletes, the future of the Olympic games and the politics surrounding them.
Tune in to Tewksbury’s full interview with The National‘s Adrienne Arsenault tonight on CBC TV or streamed online.
“My life has transformed 100 per cent in the last 20 years,” said Tewksbury, now 50.
“From being brave enough to take that step, to talking about the topic when nobody wanted to talk about it and enduring years and years of people saying, ‘Are we still talking about this?'”
Coming out can still be scary for Olympic athletes
Over the years, Tewksbury has shifted his focus from the pool to motivational speaking, standing up for human rights and integrity in sports.
He is also set to star in a one-man show 50 & Counting at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, which aims to explore the changes in society and in himself since coming out.
Watch: Tewksbury reflects on coming out